My deadline approaches. To my dismay, I cannot think of a single thing. I rack my clogged brain. I sit in front of a computer, a notebook, anything, nothing.

It’s odd. Writer’s block never happened to me before. It is as if my mind has a blockage that prevents the flow of ideas. Time to do some menial tasks.

I received new filters for my turtle tank, shipped same day Amazon Prime. The pump needs a good scrubbing; it’s covered in turtle crap. I pull the pump out of my Lou’s aquarium and scrub the foul slime I find and tell myself it’s not turtle crap I’m scrubbing.

My mind wanders and I think of my trips to Salt Creek and Bartlett Pond.

The water is slow and the sediment looks slimy and sludgy, like turtle crap. Except I have never seen a turtle before in my close to a dozen trips up and down the creek.

The muck makes the creek appear foul. A greasy layer of filth under the water tells the history of south Saint Petersburg.  The creek is a dumping ground, a sacrificial piece of nature. We should strive to not sacrifice nature. Salt Creek is a bad choice for sacrifice. The accumulation of trash, sludge, and fecal matter is proof. But, every now and then humanity needs ritual slaughter.

The blockages go farther than just the sludge and crap. The creek is like a splinter hanging off tree bark. A dam blocks Salt Creek and Bartlett Pond from Lake Maggiore, and beyond that, a highway fragments the natural swale of south Saint Petersburg, disconnecting Clam Bayou from Lake Maggiore. The various blockages and breaks of the creek are the wounds that resulted in the death of the area. The area was sacrificed for the good of the northern residents and progress.

Most people don’t think of a filthy creek like that, and even those who do care about nature and perhaps nature writing will most likely only see the creek one way – as humans destroying good nature. However, there is more to the story of Salt Creek than just it’s gradual death over the past century.

Trash litters the mangrove roots, murky waters, and is spread across foul looking muddy shore; several bottles of cleaners and soaps emerge into view as we paddle down the creek. A newly deceased great blue heron hangs from the mangrove branches tangled in fishing strings like a marionette for the mangrove tree and wind to play with.


How did the items and resources make their way into the creek? The how, is the story missing in Salt Creek, and in most nature writing. The journey of the empty Tide jug took to become the home barnacles at the bottom of Salt Creek tells the story of nature and how we use it.


My back aches as I bend over my tub and scrub my turtle’s pump. As I scrape gunky grime away, lightning strikes.


My own blockage is gone and my brain is no longer on the sacrificial block. I think of the water I am using and how it is a resource and the journey it will take once I contaminate it with my turtle poop.

Perhaps I’ll write about the resources we use, like my turtle and water, and writer’s block.

I’m free flowing.