Pride and a Cleansing Tide

Today an autumnal tide flows over the Eagle River meadow. In minutes it will peak at 19.7 feet. Even now it robs the gulls of all their usual resting places. During this evening’s ebb, it will wash the meadow clean of decaying salmon carcasses and any other flotsam carried here by storm flooded streams.  Not content to appreciate the broken storm light reflecting off the flooded meadow, I try to conjure it up in high summer when lupines, paintbrush and shooting stars flowers formed colorful colonies on its green field.

We started this hike during the tail end of a fall storm. Aki had to stop repeatedly to shake off water.  While I waited for the end of each shimmy, I  looked at stubborn hold outs of summer displaying their few remaining leaves high even as they fade from yellow to brown. Below, their practical neighbors have already tucked themselves away under crispy brown covers. One blueberry bush sports a yellow leaf and 20 new blossoms. I would join the forest gossips in condemning this waste of life force but the pure white flowers, each an elongated Japanese lantern, sway with beauty in the rain.

Riverbank alders, wise survivors all, are bared for winter. Even here one tree holds a dead brown leave over the water. Cupped to catch the rain, the lone leaf releases a series of drops into the river below where each mixes with green glacier water and that colored red by running over iron oxide.

The rain stops as we reach river meadow but the tide soaks Aki. She is running up and down a thin strip of river bank sand, stopping only to track the progress of a seal in the river. It and a couple of clumsy sea lions ride the flooding tide before us. Aki startles one of the sea lions by jumping over driftwood and it crashes under the water like a diver that never does well in competition. The dog appears to swell with excitement, if not pride, and dashes along head of me on the trail, now flooded by the tide and swims over it to a patch of dry meadow. It must be pride that animates her for she turns back and splashes back to me on the same inundated path.   Having witnessed the folly of prideful flowers, berry bushes, and now Aki, I choose a humble path back to the woods.

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