Returning to the Green Gray Woods

After Oahu, with its nature painted with a garish palette, this simple forest trail seems too green and grey. In this time before the salmon and berries, we can only find peace and the promise of summer. Even though the devil’s club leaf buds are barely swelling the fern shoots now reach a foot above the ground. Their tips are still rolled into the fiddle head shape that gives them their name. A tasty treat when harvested early and then sauteed in butter, the tips will soon relax and allow the fern leaves to flatten out and capture the sun.

We find a few magenta salmon berry blossoms near the trailhead but for a trail mile its all green and brown. Only the nest building song of the forest birds provides any counterpoint to the forest’s earth tones. That changes where we reach the first meadow, which hosts a myriad of yellow skunk cabbage blooms. Small yellow violets and marsh flowers grow near the forest edges.  Southeast Alaska summer always starts with a show of yellow flowers but on this trip we also find  some blue lupine flower stalks and even a small island of magenta shooting stars. We also find four Canada geese feeding on the river flats. They stir at our approach but stroll, rather than fly away.  Maybe they know that Aki is geese shy for they hold their ground while another group of geese across the river break to flight at the appearance of a black labrador. 

We walk for the most part under grey skies and flat light that fools the sensors on my camera. I want to capture all the shades of grey in the clouds, the whites on the mountains, and the strong yellow of the new cottonwood leaves that have yet to turn their summer green.  No setting works until  maverick shaft of light strikes a mixed spruce and cottonwood forest beneath the mountains.  

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