Back in the rain forest after two weeks of sun in Anchorage, I’m wandering the Troll Woods with Aki. A gray world of softness, the woods offer the best place to relax after cramming a semester’s worth of learning into 12 days. Yellow-green moss climbs the trees and covers the ground five inches deep. Beavers hauling freshly cut tree branches to their wood stash have worn a trail in the moss, which we follow to where a break in thick alders offers a filtered view of a pond.
I never noticed the pond before and wonder if it is another beaver public works project. Ever interested in finding the new in well known places I lead a reluctant Aki around an alder tangle then down a recent path formed through three foot tall grass. It ends in a circle of crushed grass near the pond’s edge—a bear’s bed. “Why not,” I tell Aki. If I were a bear recently sated by Sockeye Salmon snatched from Steep Creek while tourists snapped their cameras, had endured helicopter noise and bus fumes, I’d come here to contemplate this pocket pond. I’d watch water bugs skate its surface, dig the perfect reflection of the deep green buckbean stalks choking one bay, laugh at the how a solitary glacier erratic looks like a partially submerged skull sporting mossy hair. When darkness shuts down the industrial tourism machine I’d curl up on the still soft grass stalks and dream of more salmon. I’d wake in the morning before the mosquitos and snatch a few Nagoon Berries before heading to work.
Not wanting to be here when the bear returns, we take a reverse course on the beaver’s logging road. Near another pond, the one where last Spring she dashed across too soft ice to investigate beaver tail slaps, Aki stares at the water then dashes over to a newly formed beaver den of branches and mud. With the tense posture of an interested poodle and tail a metronome she stands on top of the den until reluctantly answering my summons to, “Get away from there you stupid dog.” When will she learn that the big toothy rodents do not want to be her friends?