Yet, you likely see it as “not perfect”. Elderly ammunition storage buildings, magazines and bunkers. An electrical substation with massive power towers shuttling electricity to the Island. Still, I see beyond all this industrial edginess to the iconic mountains across the town, beyond the river.

Where you see mud puddles and potholes, I see reflections of the sky and clouds and willows. Where you see chain link fences and gates with warning signs, I see past them to hillsides where ancient old growth grasses flourish and a bunker fills with an evening glow of the last light before the night falls. This is the magic of magic. There is a verse in the Bible I am recalling: “Be still, and know that I am god.”

As a bicyclist rides swiftly past, even he does not break the silence of this special place of peace. All is sacred here. Even the old concrete buildings at the river’s shore have been imbued with cathedral-like qualities.

My reverence for these sacred lands; these woodlands from before time; these mysterious lands where indigenous peoples came to say their prayers, gather, hunt, plant, tend, bury and honor their ancient ones; these lands are held in trust now, by you and me. For us to honor and hold. For us to share together as sacred space. For us to be inspired by. For us to be restored in the presence of.

This wilderness, as I am fond of saying, “wild near us”, isn’t for others to profit from. These lands have survived and now been set aside for eternity to serve their natural purpose. Their time of toil is over. Their time of war is bygone. They are now for all that is wild. All that might find a place to raise their young, to feed and forage. These lands are a place of undisturbed respite for those migrating on their great journey, as those before them, since the beginning of time.

May we gather together to celebrate this season of migration, of rest, of nourishment, for all who travel the great Flyway. May we devote ourselves more than ever before, to keeping our open spaces open, our serene places, untouched, our magnificent and majestic vistas clear, our places of peace, preserved.

May all who share this purpose, all who care deeply about these ways, all who have not yet discovered our wildnesses and wildernesses where waters, earth and sky coalesce, come together, gather together at this annual celebration with a specific purpose. To certainly find ourselves awed and inspired. And, more.

Let’s renew our vows together during this time of seasonal wonder. That we, you and I and each of us who cherish this land held in trust, will commit to helping ensure that our wildlands here on Mare Island and throughout the San Francisco Bay, will be forever open and free. Free on which to roam, to rest, to reflect and to renew.

Night is surrounding Nitro and me, now. The land and its waters, shores, clouds and stars above, envelope us as one, as we snuggle under our winter covers of warmth and wild loveliness. Sleep well, my precious ones. Dream of safe places and spaces for all.    click to continue


Wild near us...closer, still.

Join us for our 27th annual celebration of the migration through San Francisco Bay of more than 1 million shorebirds and hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, hawks and other wildlife at the peak of migration. February 11-13, 2022



Sierra Club

Redwood chapter

Photos: Interior of a ammunition storage magazine along the Napa River’s shore, Fred Niehoff; California scrub jay, Mare Island Preserve, Bill George; Native American prayer flags made and placed by Michelle Herrera for her opening prayers for the 2021 Flyway Festival, Mare Island San Pablo Bay Trail, Bill George; Say’s phoebe, Mare Island San Pablo Bay Trail, Bill George.

Please make your donation to the Flyway Festival payable to:

Mare Island

Heritage Trust

816 Branciforte St.

Vallejo, CA 94590

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