Here is an excerpt from Kelly Stuart’s “The Language of Cormorants,” a love song to the teeming–and threatened–life of the California estuaries. Kelly’s essay, which appeared in the summer 2019 issue of Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry, is one of our Pushcart Prize nominees for 2020.
“Cormorants are adaptable birds, but they are just as vulnerable as others to habitat losses. They won’t survive without the precious water and the food these places provide, and their laughing grunts will disappear forever from the coast. Paddling my kayak in one evening to a public dock at the port of Redwood City, I watch the cormorants dive and bob beneath a rising yellow moon, and suddenly feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for them. To destroy such beauty, even unwittingly, is a crime not only against nature, but against ourselves, as we are a part of these strange places as well. They stand for our own gray areas, neither liquid nor solid, neither saltwater nor fresh, but somewhere in between and always in motion.”