Trying Not to Take Sides


Aki ignored the tanner crab shell until I took an interest in it. It was on its back; something with shape, substance, but little weight and no smell. The later explains Aki’s lack of interest.

We find many crab shell husks. The Dungeness ones are best because you can’t find a point of egress for the former occupant. (This tanner escaped by popping the top off his carapace.) But the Tanner husk that Aki noses with distain is unusual because it still has its delicate claws. I admire their slender pincers and walk on. My little dog stays by the shell giving me a look that would convey judgmental surprise on a human face. She only agrees to follow me when I try to photograph her next to her prize. Aki is not in the mood for modeling.

eagle 2

It’s almost low tide. A hundred gulls, made bright white by the low angled light, rest in a thin line on the sand. They mimic the light enhanced Chilkat Range on the horizon. When they rise in a porous cloud I realize that we walked over the place they vacated yesterday morning. Now, the little dog and I walk across the gulls’ horizon. Two bald eagles fly from nearby spruce trees out over Smuggler Cover. I turn away for a moment. When I look back, the placid mallards and scoters we just passed are nervous. A raft flies off, passing one of the eagles on an opposite trajectory. That eagle lands on a sandbar and looks around it like a tourist looking for the bus stop. The other one hunches over something on another sandbar, bobbing his head like the big birds do when the rend flesh. I can’t see what he holds in his talons but know it must be food. In minutes two crows land on the bar and stand at a safe (respectful?) distance from the eagle.


As the crows wait for scraps, I once again wonder at how much violence is committed in this place we humans find so beautiful. I honor the eagle for his skill in plucking a meal from the sea, understand his need to feed, respect the role of hunter and prey, yet find myself rooting for those lower on the food chain. I could almost pray that the molted tanner crab will survive his brief, naked existence on the ocean floor, until again protected by a hard shell.


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