The Party is Over

I rarely see Aki so stirred up. She runs, upright tail prestissimo, up and down the river bank. At the end of each lap she sniffs and then stares out into the river current. She must scent the shy seal I saw when first cresting this grassy bluff.  Aki didn’t hear or see it. A wall of dead grass blocked her view of the river when I saw the seal and it slipped below the surface without a sound.

We wait for ten minutes, me with the camera ready, the now spent Aki panting by my side, for the seal to resurface. All we see is a raft of Bufflehead ducks and a strange circle form on the river surface as by a seal’s nose raised just enough to breathe. Downriver a self absorbed gang of gulls trot about on an emerging sand bar, admiring themselves in the mirror like surface of the bar.

We see no other signs of feeding. An eagle flew over as we left the car this morning. It landed in a riverside perch and sang out complaints to the rain. Any eagle with imagination or at least some inside information would be heading north to the Chillkat River to feed on the late run chum run. The Eagle River party is over.

Autumn advances rapidly now.  What fall color remains fades quickly on the approach of winter darkness. It’s not all bad.  Devil’s Club leaves no longer block the old river trail so we take it to the secret garden Aki and I stumbled into on Midsummer.  Its once green ferns have died back to tough brown husks. We find one red huckleberry, still moist and fresh. Some yellowing leaves still cling to the same bush but on one small shoot flower buds swell. One has burst into full bloom—a tiny Japanese lantern hanging in the rain.  Is each huckleberry bush a confederation of independent twigs?

We return to the main trail and find it covered with fallen cottonwood leaves. Crisp even in this downpour, they still crackle under foot.  I shuffle just to hear them fly with each boot step then stop in see them sail away from Aki’s paws.  May I never outgrown the need to splash in puddles or crash through fallen leaves.

1 thought on “The Party is Over

  1. KatiesCameraBlog

    I love this quote from your post, “May I never outgrown the need to splash in puddles or crash through fallen leaves.” That’s my wish for myself also. 🙂 I love these photos, Simply gorgeous and to hear of cottonwood trees up your way. I didn’t know. Beautiful blog you have. Pet Aki for me. 🙂


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