Not Glencoe

devil's clubThe day broke well on Chicken Ridge, announced by the slap of Sunday’s paper on almost dry ground. “Where shall we go today, little dog?” Aki ignores the question and heads for the kitchen, nails clacking on the hardwood floor. Her tongue lifts water from her dish when the first blast of wind driven rain slams into our house. Heavy raindrops appear to atomize when each strikes our neighbor’s metal roof. Wind carries the resulting vapor toward Gastineau Channel.

The poodle mix withdraws to the back of her kennel as I carry out the prep work for a walk in the woods—fill water bottle; grab camera, leash, pop bags, fleece for Aki; don rain gear, insulated Elmer Fudd hat, boots. She joins me just before I open the front door and we fight our way through wind and rain to the car.

fernsWe park at the edge of an old growth forest with a trail that leads to the sea. Aki dashes into the woods where it is calm and even free of rain. A gentle breeze tosses ferns that grow on the roots of a wind-tumbled spruce. Reminded of the power of wind, I look to canopy to see if the tops of the century old spruce trees bend. They don’t. Deep in the woods we hear the trickle of water in swollen streams but not the crack and creak of trees struggling in a serious wind. Still, Aki walks with caution; quick to jump when a stray alder leaf flutters toward her.

We follow a trail that snakes around broad circles of spruce root wads ripped from the ground when 100 miles an hour winds toppled the tree they once gave life. I’d like to be in the woods when such a wind drops giants but each time a storm brings them, common sense convinces me to hunker down on the ridge and ride it out.

Even on the bordering beach, the great trees shelter us. Gusts break over the tops of the tall spruce to darken the otherwise calm water with small, spiraling ripples. Some rip off isolated alder leaves that twirl and spin to beach. Apparently feeling exposed, Aki dances back into the woods. I follow, my mind filled with a memory of Cara Dillon singing “Donald of Glencoe.” I think of that exposed Scottish glen and the coast between Oban and Fort William so open to the wind. Is the sister to this Alaskan wind scouring the Highlands? “Ponder that little dog, those coastal Scots can’t even duck into the woods for shelter. The dog ignores my admonishment. We motor through the woods. She doesn’t doddle when asked to hop into the car.mushroom village


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