Mijn Nederlands Is Niet Zo Goed

Today is Liberation Day in the Netherlands, and marks the 75th anniversary of their liberation at the end of World War II.  There were many Canadians involved in that operation, so today is often marked by celebrations of Dutch-Canadian friendship on both sides of the Atlantic.  Since I can’t actually celebrate anything with my Dutch friends these days, I instead offer up this poem:

Due to my non-Dutch upbringin’
I can’t speak the language they sing in
So I took a Dutch course
Now I make my voice hoarse
As I try to pronounce Scheveningen

I really need help with my Dutch
Since I currently lack the right touch
I don’t mean to sound terse
But I just can’t converse
Though I like writing poems very much!

Your regularly-scheduled coastal science and engineering-themed blog posts will resume… eventually…

Ode to a Squash

All hail the mighty squash!
Neglected by many
Loved by few
Such a noble vegetable!

There in abundance at my Albert Heijn
The lone survivor of panic-stricken shoppers
You stand defiantly on a shelf
With only wonky-looking peppers and carrots
To keep you company

But I see you, squash.
I recognize your beauty
And your potential.

Together we will make
Wondrous pastas and curries
Soups, salads, and even pies
If my shitty toaster oven
Is feeling merciful

Your future is bright

Where Water Comes Together with Other Water

I recently found a poem by Raymond Carver that really struck a chord with me, and I thought I’d share it for anyone else who is estuarily enthusiastic:

Where Water Comes Together with Other Water

I love creeks and the music they make.
And rills, in glades and meadows, before
they have a chance to become creeks.
I may even love them best of all
for their secrecy. I almost forgot
to say something about the source!
Can anything be more wonderful than a spring?
But the big streams have my heart too.
And the places streams flow into rivers.
The open mouths of rivers where they join the sea.
The places where water comes together
with other water. Those places stand out
in my mind like holy places.
But these coastal rivers!
I love them the way some men love horses
or glamorous women. I have a thing
for this cold swift water.
Just looking at it makes my blood run
and my skin tingle. I could sit
and watch these rivers for hours.
Not one of them like any other.
I’m 45 years old today.
Would anyone believe it if I said
I was once 35?
My heart empty and serene at 35!
Five more years had to pass
before it began to flow again.
I’ll take all the time I please this afternoon
before leaving my place alongside this river.
It pleases me, loving rivers.
Loving them all the way back
to their source.
Loving everything that increases me

– Raymond Carver

The image at the top of this post is of the mouth of the Columbia River, apparently at the beginning of flood tide. The plume of sediment and fresh water from the muddy river has extended out into the Pacific and mixed with salty seawater.  Then, as the tide turns, it floods and brings the new mixture back into the estuary.  This results in the second, inner plume pushing its way past the jetties.  The contrasting physical properties of these two meeting bodies of water results in the beautiful patterns we see here.  “The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.”

Sources:

Carver, R. Where Water Comes Together with Other Water. Astley, N. (Ed.). (2011). Being Human: Real Poems for Unreal Times. Tarset: Bloodaxe Books.

Sentinel-2 L1C image from February 10, 2020 (Source: https://tinyurl.com/uze5feu). Image has been slightly enhanced to improve contrast.

An Ode to the LISST

This is a poem about the Laser In-Situ Scattering and Transmissometry or LISST instrument, which we use for measuring sand and mud floating through the water.  I wrote it in response to a challenge to rap about what we learned during a workshop on estuaries last summer.  I had some fun with it so I thought I’d share…

And now a poem about the LISST
It is a great solution
To measure stuff that’s floating
And its grain size distribution

When processing your measurements
You must beware the floc!
Since if you don’t account for it
You’re in for quite a shock

If there seems like too much mud
We should have some suspicion
Before all else, we have to check
The optical transmission

“We have an awful lot of sand!”
Is this hallucination?
First thing’s first: we should have checked
Our background concentration

We sometimes see before our eyes
Large particles appearin’
When gradients of salt are high
It is the fault of Schlieren

So from the depths of Ameland,
A lesson that does matter:
When working with a fancy LISST
Don’t blindly trust your data!

IMG_5723
The mighty LISST: a Laser In-Situ Scattering and Transmissometry instrument, which shines a small laser through the water.  When the beam hits a particle floating by, it scatters and makes a unique pattern of light and shadow, depending on how large the particle is.  We can then interpret these patterns to estimate the size of the sand or mud that are floating through the water.