Two years ago I started this online journal with an entry about Fish Creek. This morning Aki and I returned to measure the progress of fall in this sheltered place. The salmon were gone, of course, bodies carried away by carrion eaters or washed away by the autumn floods. With nothing to attract them, we found no bears and only one bald eagle. We inadvertently flushed her when well past the places marked by the tracks of other hikers. It is so easy to find forest solitude on these rainy fall days.
After that visit two years ago, I wasn’t sure if I could mine Fish Creek for enough material to fill even one blog post. But an old growth forest, even at quiet times, always has some new trick to show you. Today it offered white lacy ferns in transition from green to dead brown, clumps of fungus mimicking a pipe organ, a squirrel willing to stare down a poodle in fleece, a freshly fallen spruce tree blocking the trail. Grown large and tall in disturbed ground along the stream that fertilized it with spent salmon, the gambling spruce paid the price for its easy riverine life. It will never grow to maturity like the spruce occupying the ground just beyond reach of the fickle stream, but its flesh could change the stream’s course.
Leaving the forest I drove further out the road to wrack for sea weed. We use it in the garden. Only thin lines of rock week marked the high time line at the beach I usually harvest so I didn’t bother with it. A flood tide almost filled Bootlegger Cove with water the color of dulled mercury, reaching toward the Mendenhall Glacier. Only a bright red buoy floated on the calm water until a common loon popped, corklike, to the surface. I resented the presence of the rude-colored buoy as much as I enjoyed watching the loon’s graceful comings and goings; I who just left the woods with an alway curious toy poodle mix, she wearing high visibility yellow and I bright red.