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Poems from the Field 


November 30, 2017

By Michael Arbeider

The Story of the Keogh


Stumbling to and fro

Walking in a stream

Some rocks like oiled bowling balls

Others loose as pins

Two hands around a tote to grope

the precious instruments within

Two hundred tags and needles too

To mark the fish that swim


Upstream downstream, to and fro

Darting past our nets

Causing us chagrin


But when we catch them

They will tell

The story of their lives

Through tiny pieces of their skin

The Keogh River. Below the glistening water of this glide lays algal covered round rocks that make the journey up it as treacherous as it is beautiful! (Photo Credit: Luke Andersson)
A fish scale (aka “tiny piece of skin”), which can be used to determine the age and growth history of the fish it came from!
Chicken of the Woods. Notice how they glow bright orange! (Photo credit: Catherine Jardine)

Extra Keogh Critters


Sometimes the streams

Will give us extra treats

From four legs to none


A deer so close

You could hear it drink

As if your head were in the sink!


The pylon orange

Of not a bird

But a mushroom named akin

The Banks of Koeye


Walking down a path

Barely a person wide

You often wonder

Who else might pass

Who doesn’t really mind

Making that path more wide


One break of dawn we walked

Twisting with the roots

The air was damp

(As we were too)

As too the sounds by rain


I had a startle

By two bounding beasts

That turned out to be

Man’s best friend!

But regardless,

In the bushes was where I lay

The Bays of Koeye


Who knew that smolts

Liked bladder wrack

In the back of bays


I guess it’s better

Than most things

For smolts to spend their days


Hiding from Kings and Stags

Who would catch them

Like it was play

Foreground, one of our friends who gave me quite the startle one morning by bounding past us on the bear trail. Background, a simple “tote-table” set up used for our salmon measuring station. (Photo Credit: Karl Seitz)
Early in the day at the library in Bamfield (still lots of smiling faces!). (Photo Credit: Emma Atkinson)

The Coding Condition


Sometimes you’ll find yourself sitting

For hours at a time

Looping a song on repeat

To the rhythm of your code


You tell yourself,

“At least I’m in Bamfield”

The beauty of that place

never gets old!


When “Simulate to stimulate”

Becomes your mantra

You know somethings gone wrong


Or has it gone, completely right?

Maybe you’ve finally got it

Diving into code headlong!


Until your warnings are too many

To even fit without a prompt

And tears begin to brew

But laughter follows quickly after

And you know

That “12” is not for noon



Sometimes you’ll find yourself sitting

For hours, until very late

Knowing that at least around

Are friends,

in the same state

The March of Koeye


Falling asleep, POP

The fire crackles and burns hot

Cradled by a cot


Falling asleep, TAP

Tap, tap, scurry goes the mouse

Running in our house


Falling asleep, SNAP

The steps of the mouse fall flat

Food is safe tonight


Morning, waking up

My face cold and body hot

Bundled in a bag


Morning, waking up

Wood stove is creaking open

Karl cracking kindling


Morning, woken up

Hot tea brewing in my cup

Toasting through my mug

Quickly, on the march

Mist on the stream is rising

Crisp green horizons


Quickly, on the march

Making our way on the path

Misty breaths, I gasp


Slowing, on the march

Sounds from the trap get louder

Groaning in water


Sitting at the trap

Scooping salmon by hundreds

Silver, orange, and blues


Sitting by the bin

Hands slowly getting colder

Weigh, measure, tag, repeat


Sitting back at camp

Breakfast for us a frying

Day just beginning

Karl Seitz getting ready to pull in the rotary screw trap we use to capture juvenile salmon. The rotation of the aluminum screw echoes strange noises along the banks of the Koeye. (Photo Credit: Michael Arbeider)
Back at our basecamp. The view from our porch on a nice day but chilly day, warm mug at the ready. (Photo Credit: Michael Arbeider)
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