Black as Coal, White as Snow

Much of Union Bay, on the shores of Baynes Sound, is not a natural landscape but a living legacy of coal-mining days of over 100 years ago, when the community was the port for coal mined in nearby Cumberland and shipped to destinations around the world.

After transport to Union Bay, the coal was washed, using water diverted from Hart Creek (hence the alternate name of Washer Creek) then loaded onto ships. The waste or ‘slack’ ( small pieces and dust from the coal) was dumped at the estuary, a practice which would be unthinkable today. The black coal slack formed an industrial landscape that is gradually revegetating.

At the Shore

View toward the Sound

Black & white seemed a fitting way to portray the somber landscape of black ground & grey skies. Vegetation is sparse in the black coal slack. In this composition the paths through the grasses lead the eye to the islands in the distance.

Black & White Shore

Black & White Shore

This composition shows the stark line where the black coal meets the intertidal grasses. The looming cloud above mirrors the curving dark shape of the dark ground below.

At the Estuary

Intertidal Wetland

In the intertidal zone, seashore grasses & other plants are growing perhaps due to the richness of the sea. The brightening sky is reflected in the brackish tidal ponds.

Rag Lichen (Platismatia sp.)

Rag Lichen (Platismatia sp.)

Various lichens are colonising the driftwood logs – though even the lichens appear black & white.

Skeleton in the Woods

Skeleton in the Woods

A strong odor of decay led me to this scene. Salmon carcasses provide valuable nutrients to the woods farther from shore.  The second growth forest is full of invasive species which are the first colonisers of disturbed sites  – here invasive daphne laurel looms behind the  native Oregon grape in the foreground.

To the Sound

Stream to the Sound

The stark landscape provides ample opportunity for highlighting graphic shapes which work well in black & white. This small side stream is eroding the black coal banks on its way to the ocean.

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Even some of the plants seem drained of colour. Snowberry is one of the few berries remaining at this time of year.

Darkling Beetle (Tenebrionoidea sp.)

Darkling Beetle (Tenebrionoidea sp.)

Signs of life appear in the woods – beetles should be inactive at this time of year, but this one scuttling along the wet maple leaves was a reminder of nature’s activity even in the midst of winter.

This entry was posted in History, Insects, Photography, Plants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Black as Coal, White as Snow

  1. YunitaGena says:

    i was captured by the tittle, there’s word ‘coal’. You have an awesome picture. that sbowberry picture is lovely.

  2. Juan says:

    Your insect is not Tenebrionidae, it is indeed Scaphinotus (Cychrus) tuberculatus.
    Snowberry is a cute plant, I´ve never heard before.

  3. Thanks for your comment Juan, you may be correct!

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