Sitka

Aki is off the rock having taken the ferry from Juneau to rainy Sitka for a long weekend with friends. Through their windows in clear weather we could view Sitka Sound with its spruce covered islands that appear to float like imperfect birthday cakes on the flat calm sea. We could also see Mt.. Edgecumbe, a Mr. Fuji clone, rise above the sound.  This morning a grey blanket of rain thickened fog hides all but the nearest cluster of islands and they only show as ghosts on the near horizon.

The fog thins, giving hope for a better day but then gains substance from an incoming rain squall. Aki doesn’t care. She has the resident border collie and her Australian shepherd sidekick to keep her entertained. She leaves me alone with the faint hope of spotting humpback whale spouts or a breakfasting sea otter. I watched one from this window a year ago while it ate shell fish and I sipped a second cup of coffee.

Yesterday Aki and an entourage of dogs and their people climbed from near salt water to a little forest lake, passing moderate sized yellow cedar trees that dropped hand sizes clumps of their lacy foliage to the trail. Each section of lace is orange, not healthy yellow-green and will soon die to brown. Like praying for a friend undergoing cancer I hope the trees will survive in this time of climate change.

The trail crests on a muskeg meadow dotted with wind deformed bull pines infected with burls. These external growths encircle limbs and trunk. Cut laterally,  the burls reveal a beautiful chaos of swirling lines. Trees with only one or two burls still have lush green needles. Those with more display the brilliant orange and yellow needles of a fall with no promise of spring resurrection.  

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