Walking along the gentle woods that border Mendenhall River, I let myself day dream about a harlequin duck I watched yesterday as it floated on a back eddy of Gold Creek. It was a male with powder blue beak and bold slashes of slate blue and chestnut brown feathers on face and body. The duck could not hear me or my little dog over the noise of the swollen creek. So I stood, like a well hidden spy and watched the duck, so far away from the salt water where his kind feed. Was he trapped in this deep creek valley, unable to find a safe flight path out? Was he an angry teenager runaway or a daredevil taking a break from a dangerous whitewater descent? I wanted to wait for the duck’s next move until Aki showed impatient with every muscle of her 9 pound body.
This morning an alert Aki patrols ahead then strikes a guard dog pose next to a trailside clump of devil’s club. Each branch of the thorny plant holds a chalice of spring-green leaves too porous to capture the morning sun.