While Aki charges in and out of the spruce forest I stand stunned by the sunlight on fresh snow and this tree that never photographs well. Other things evade the camera’s telling—fair surf sounding where this salt chuck drains into Lynn Canal, the absence of others, Aki’s paws pounding the snow crust, a surprising absence of wind. I should approach the tree to determine if it is ash or a homesteader’s maple but that it seems wrong to dimple its surrounding snow with snowshoe prints.
A slough protects the tree’s privacy in other seasons so the recent hard winter freeze offers my only chance to investigate. Thinking that the next good snow shower will cover our tracks I start forward, then ask Aki whether identifying it’s species will rob the tree of its magic. Aki charges back into the woods leaving me to wrestle alone with the question.
Whether motivated by laziness or inspired by wisdom I into the tidal meadow keeping the tree a nameless thing of white and light and pleasing shape.
This close to the solstice, light is fleeting visitor to the salt chuck area. For two short hours a day the sun moves over the chuck and connecting tidal meadow like a spotlight as if providing selected trees with 15 minutes of saturated fame. With no one else around they have an audience of two, one distracted by the scent of otters, mice, and squirrels left in tracks across the meadows.
I enjoy the play of lights and darks then climb a low hill separating salt chuck and a pocket beach where frozen sand makes walking easy. Aki and I sit in the sun trying to conjure up a whale or even a sea lion. The whales are in Hawaii and the sea lion must be sunning on their haul out rock.