Last night Aki’s other human and I enjoyed the Juneau Symphony’s performances of Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto and a small piece by Franz Linzt. The drama of both prepared us for the near blizzard blowing outside the auditorium. It snowed steady all night. This morning it took an hour for me and the neighbors to clear an exit path off of Chicken Ridge. Looking for cover from the storm we headed to the forested trails on North Douglas Island.
Here, as happens often, we find a break in the storm clouds that allows in the sun. Aki dives out of the car and rolls in new snow, one of her favorite things. Then she dashes down the old growth trail to the beach. Since it is more open than the Troll Woods, strong sunlight penetrates this forest to illuminate each flake of snow blown out of the canopy by a dying breeze. It is too beautiful to describe and too etherial to capture with my camera. I just stand there for a moment with that feeling you get as fine Swedish chocolate melts at the back of your mouth. Aki spends this time having another roll in the snow. Both saited by indulgence, we move on a muskeg bog where only ancient Bull Pines manage to grow among the berries brush. I call it the monastery meadow.
I know they are just trees, these gnarled and stunted conifers. Their inability to compete with the faster growing spruce force them onto such marginal ground. While trees of the forest offer each other protection from fierce winds these pines stand alone and allow the wind to prune away superfluous growth. Today they rise, comfortably spaced over this berry patch as the sun melts away last night’s snow. If trees were sentient beings these pines would be their spiritual masters, life reduced to simplicity by wind and poor ground.
Moving on we re-enter the old growth forest and walk to the ocean’s edge. Today’s 18 foot high tide has taken all of the beach, leaving us a small snow covered strip of grassland on which to stand. The water is claim so it reflects all the pinks and blues and grays of the sky, The scene is too peaceful to last and I expect a breaching Humpback Whale to break the silence but hear only mewing Gulls and the nervous song of Scooters.
Looping back through the woods we reach the road from which you can see mountains on Admiralty, the large island just across Stephens’ Passage from us. Storm clouds move up channel in front of the mountains while more of the same have already climbed island’s ridge and will soon block Admiralty entirely from view. Flakes are already falling when we reach the car.