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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Love Is in the Light and in the Water

Posted by | February 9, 2014 | Filed under: Opinion

Photo by Sofi Hindmarch, Delta Farmland Trust

The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune and Making It At Home Sunday editions, 2/9/2014.

Recent snows to the contrary, believe me when I say the sun is already stronger this month. Higher in the sky every day, the sun hangs out longer and illuminates what was, last month, in shadow. For those afflicted by Seasonal Affective Disorder, the hardest days have passed. As we rebound from winters darkest depths, springs begins to stir in the hormonal systems of other species, particularly those who mate seasonally. Chicken-keepers, awake -- egg production should, the science says, begin to naturally increase. Birders, delight -- as the sun returns, testosterone blooms with it and male birds will grow more colorful and vocal in preparation for their season of love. (The technical term for these seasonal environmental cues is the wonderful German word zeitgeber, or time giver, coined by J?rgen Aschoff, a founding father in the field of chronobiology.) Chemically, love is arriving. …how did St. Valentine know?

A different kind of attraction had me fascinated in December and January. The high tides around the confluence of the winter solstice and the full moon are some of the highest of the year. These king tides occurred on December 4th and again on January 2nd, when the moon and sun each tugged at the Earth like star-crossed lovers. King tides treat us to a preview of what is to come: their extra inches reveal what future, normal high tides will be like, as the seas continue their inexorable rise. The ocean bubbled up through manhole covers in Portlands Back Cove, lapped at the footings of Camp Ellis and Kennebunk, and pushed far up into our rivers. Fortunately, no major noreasters coincided with the king tides this year; our beachfront communities flirted with disaster for another year. But the brush of climate changes kiss was still felt.

Working at an estuary, the nursery of so much life in the Gulf of Maine, the staff of the Wells Reserve and I are continually reminded of ebbs and flows and life and death. Estuaries are dynamic places, on the edge of two worlds, continually fertile and naturally passionate. This week, we are part of a national social media campaign, I <3 Estuaries, that seeks to draw attention to the importance and vitality of these places where rivers meet the sea. In years past, I would have hardened my heart to social media (or at least rolled my eyes). But I have come to embrace the web and Facebook and yes, even Twitter, as the digitization of love. If these platforms make it easier and faster to share our loves, or even just our Likes, who am I to admit impediments?

Obviously, I adore the language of love. In my life, I have studied poetry and natural selection, worked in sales and science, and happily entered into the halls of marriage and fatherhood. Love, in its myriad forms, underpins them all. Amor vincit Omnia  love conquers all. Its a force, like light and water, that motivates, sometimes exasperates, but eventually integrates, with everything. Happy Valentines week.

Nik Charov is president of Laudholm Trust, the nonprofit partner of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine. His Sunday column, Between Two Worlds, ventures forth from the intersection of art and science, past and future, love and death. More at

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