High Water


The Mendenhall River could be a middle-aged uncle with body issues. He brings on dramatic weight changes by climbing on and falling off the latest diet bandwagon. Our last visit the Mendenhall flowed low in its channel, comfortable in the banks it cut for itself through glacier moraine. This morning, Aki and I find Uncle Men fat, sloppy and aggressive. His waters cover all the gravel bars that once offered a home to river beauty and stabilizing willows. He has even cut off the establish access trail into the troll woods. (Rain fall and accelerated glacier melt cause the floods but I can’t pass up a metaphor).

fireweed         Turning our backs on his disturbing excesses, we use a faint forest trail as a work around. Aki is ecstatic to be out of the house. The little dog ignores the steady rain as she hunts for sign. This morning she acted like her teacup sized heart would break if I left for the woods without her. When I drove off yesterday morning to drop the car off at a mechanic’s shop, she sang a very sad song. It’s the suitcases. She has been watching me pack for my two-week residency at an Anchorage writing school. (UAA). Yesterday afternoon, she stared out the window as I stuffed my disassembled travel bike into its airplane bag.


Tomorrow, she’ll calm down after she watches me pass through the TSA security line at the airport. She has witnessed this ceremony performed many times by me, my spouse, and our child. Each departee has returned through automatic airport doors. This witnessing has given her faith in TSA, Alaska Airlines and the 737. It gives her confidence that we will return to the glacier moraine in late July for me to sample ripening high bush cranberries while she rolls in beaver sign.


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