Gray days like this leave me hungry for the drama of opposites. I find a feast on this walk through an old growth forest and in the river meadow country it borders. Only contrasting smells excite Aki. Catching the scent of a squirrel or fresh animal scat sends her dashing down the trail, ears flapping, tail a metronome. For me its all visual.
Last’s night snow starts us off. It coats the green spruce forest to within a few hundred feet of sea level. This sharp demarcation of light and dark pops when shafts of low angle morning sun spot the mountain side. In the forest fresh snow dusts young evergreens and fills open spaces in the yellow green tree moss.
A crest of blue shows through the clouds when the trail leaves the forest and crosses a muskeg meadow. It’s the first blue I’ve seen in days. The sound of geese rising in panic fills the air but there are none on the muskeg. We push on to the meadowlands bordering Eagle River to see what the excitement is all about. Until now the forest has been silent.
I figure out what happened to the geese on our first glance of the river. A flood tide now covers all the bars where geese like to hang. They are gone but three ducks fly across our vision and a single seal watches us for a few seconds before dropping silently beneath the river surface.
On this open space we can appreciate the battle of sunlight with cloud cover. I have to cheer on the sun but know the clouds will win. Some filtered rays do manage to reach to river water and turn it a pale gold.
The river has covered our usual trail across the meadow with five feet of water so we have to back track. But first we stand on a high spot and watch the tide rob this meadow of the beauty. A field of snow dusted yellow beach grass disappears beneath dark water.