|(pamphlet provided by the Murky Bend Tourism Office, last updated 8/21/07)
Your experience at Murky Bend Marsh will vary greatly, depending on the season you choose to visit. Should you arrive in the spring, the most prominent ambient feature you notice will be the wind. Generally, these winds will never achieve significant velocity. However, you should dress warmly because the temperature, which often does not exceed sixty degrees Fahrenheit, will feel much colder given the additive effect of the wind. These months are often rainy as well, which will present another obstacle to your enjoyment. Even when there is no active precipitation, fog and drizzle are frequent companions. Some consolation for the weather conditions is the breathtaking manner in which the lake receives them. In the event of rain, the surface of the lake will appear pockmarked, as if continually raked by a hail of bullets whose impacts are just as quickly erased.
In summer, you are guaranteed to enjoy the plentiful sun, despite its accompanying humidity. The opportunity to catch rays should more than outweigh the heavy atmosphere. Another feature you will notice in this season is the aggressive competition of the various marsh plants who, like you, are seeking the sun’s light, although you most likely are not using it to perform photosynthesis. Of the flora, the most apparent will be the signature protuberance of the cattail, though it will often be joined by the swords of the myrtle flag and the spears of the spearwort. These will be framed by the long, cylindrical stems of rushes and reeds, like baby’s breath in a funeral bouquet. If you investigate beneath these tall plants, you might observe the eye-catching yellow flowers of the kingcup, or smell the aromatic roots of the calamus. Of course, this is assuming these plants have not been drowned out by the crushing weight of the air or their towering cousins.
If you should drop by during autumn, you might be overcome by the wistful bird calls that bring the marsh to life. Their sheer variety will entrance you. Surely, you will immediately recognize the quack of the mallard. Soon, you may discern other beautiful cries, from the chitter of the redwing blackbird to the flute of the grebe. If you are fortunate, you may feel a cold shadow cross your back and look up to spy a great blue heron passing overhead, seeking fish as it sends its abrasive, scratching call. Do not fail to seek out the lesser birds with your ears, such as the soft, gnawing honk of the American coot or the squirrel imitation of the wren. Almost certainly, one cry will reach out to your spirit; one sound of sorrow will resonate with you and take something you can never recover.
Should you be one of the few brave souls who venture out to the marsh in the still of winter, you will marvel at the undisturbed surface of the lake, frozen in a uniform sheet. It will be matched by the stillness of the air, moreso than at any other time. Much of the undergrowth will have fallen victim to the harsh elements, but patches of cattails and rushes will continue to defy them. As you gaze across the defeated landscape, you might hear the occasional warning of a Canadian goose who missed her rendezvous. Eventually you will be tempted to test the ice, to explore a perspective of the lake not available at any other time.
As you stride out onto the slick surface, gingerly at first, then with growing confidence in the safety of your transit, you will inevitably seek the direct center of the lake for a rewarding view spanning the full 360 degrees. As you spin lazily, your eyes canvassing the expanse, do not neglect to look beneath your feet. Perhaps, if you step back a bit, you will lock eyes with another pair. They will be wide open, devoid of blame or conviction, simply observing. Their owner will not be scrabbling for escape or seeking assistance. Unlike his former self, he will simply be.
As you leave the marsh and approach your car for the ride home, cast one last glance over your left shoulder. Accept the overarching sense of inner peace that the vista offers you. We hope you return soon.