Burdened Trees and Milky Water

P1120726While it rained on Chicken Ridge last night, it snowed hard a few miles away on North Douglas Island. I had to clear a foot of fresh white from the trailhead trash can before depositing Aki’s bag of scat. My boots sunk through deep snow with every step until we reached the shelter of old growth spruce. The limbs of the big trees bent almost straight down under a load of new snow. Such sacrifices provide comfortable passage for our Sitka black tail deer. Today they made it possible for Aki to dash around the forest floor, tail up, ears rising and falling with each leap. Her fun ended when one tree released its load, sending a white shower across the trail. It sounded like an express train passing through a subway station. After, I almost expected a sigh, like I would emit after being freed from a heavy burden. P1120748

Walking through a forest of trees accumulating then releasing their snow burdens we made it to the sea where the high tide pushed a thick strip of cream colored water onto the beach. I considered and rejected many fanciful explanations for this snow white water—surplus milk dumping, silly practical joke, environmental disaster. The answer was simply a matter of timing. Last night’s storm struck at low tide, allowing a great amount of snow to accumulated over exposed tide pools, gravel and sand. The morning’s flood lifted off the snow, then churned it with wave and swell until the near-beach water turned an opaque white. P1120752

I’ve seen water off Southeast beaches yellowed with cedar pollen or herring spawn and darkened by the red tide. Until this morning, it never mimicked  something from a cow. P1120759


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