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We saw the miracle of life in our neighborhood yesterday. It was so wondrous, that we paused for a moment, to acknowledge that we were in the presence of the divine.

Salmon spawning, Bear Creek, OR. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

A muddy creek runs under a bridge near our home, and we stopped to speak to a couple examining the water below.

Salmon! Salmon spawning in our urban creek!

The usually turbid water had cleared, after a few nights of rain, and we could see about a half-dozen chinook clearly.

The man on the bridge explained that the males were biting the tails of the females, as part of the mating ritual.

There was a lot of thrashing.

One female hovered over a gravelly strip, depositing eggs already.  One fish, presumably a male, appeared to be chasing other fish away, so that she wouldn’t be disturbed.

A few more salmon wriggled into view, and the shallow water was calm, except for the occasional slap on the surface.

Spawning salmon, Bear Creek, OR. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

We were all so excited, we stopped talking just to watch.

Who could imagine these salmon had ventured so far from the Pacific? And to an urban creek?

They’ve traveled hundreds of miles, through some wicked rapids on the Rogue River, then took a detour to reach this metropolitan area of more than 200,000.

We agreed the water must be less polluted than it seems. It’s not uncommon to see abandoned shopping carts rusting in the water. These salmon were mating and giving birth next to a wrecked steel barrel, yet their redd seemed — from our vantage point above — quiet and clear and as clean as could be expected in a city creek.

We only had a small camera, so couldn’t capture a good shot. No matter. We were celebrating the health of Southern Oregon waters, and the return of the salmon.

Seeing this miracle of life on a sunny afternoon, I only had three words to offer: ‘God is good.’