Aki and the Smell of Death

P1110530We are back at the Peterson Creek Salt Chuck, this time under sunny skies. Late arriving silver salmon roll on the chuck’s surface, already positioning themselves for the best spots on their spawning beds. Just a few hundred meters away from the scene of their future lustful, deadly effort to procreate, the new silvers pass the lifeless bodies of an earlier wave of their brothers, now floating down current. Some of the deceased will feed eagles, ravens, and trout. Others will ride back and forth on the tide until pushed by an autumnal flood onto the forest floor as fertilizer.  Even now decaying salmon bodies fill the air with the scent of death.

P1110537Aki watches the rolling salmon with interest, rear up, tail fanning the air, but agrees to follow me around the lake and into the woods. My clumsy steps through deep grass set a raft of mallards to a low flight. The ducks settle 50 meters up a little slough. To give them a break, I lead Aki into the woods where we join a trail leading to a string of little crescent shaped beaches that should be free of dead salmon and their smell.

At trails end, I rest on sun dried rocks above one of the beaches to scan Favorite Channel and Shelter Island beyond. While watching humpback whale spume rise above the channel I smell death. This is a concern here, away from the salmon waters because death is a perfume favored by bears this time of year. The smell fades as I turn to look into the forest for its source. No bear stares back. This happens several times and I begin to wonder if death, the kind that ends human and animal lives, carries the scent of decay. Is a smelly grim reaper in the neighborhood, enjoying some down time on this soft, sunny day? When Aki approaches from one of her forest recon missions, I pick her up and discover the truth. She is the source of the foul odor. Somewhere the little brat found bear scat or a dead salmon and rolled in it. P1110570

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