Juneau looks as it should this time of year—a tourist town at rest. Aki, my daughter and I walk past the state capitol that will soon fill with legislators. But no one will open the Franklin Street tourist traps until the first Princess boat next May. Our boots make little noise punching into the snow that covers streets and sidewalks.
At first, it’s too cold for the snow to adhere to the little poodle-mix so she walks unencumbered by snowballs. This changes when we reach to the Steamship Dock and watch a cormorant float down onto Gastineau Channel. It joins six others that already bob on the water. I think they are loons because loons show are common here in winter. But each of these birds has a cormorant’s pencil thin beak.
Snow starts to cling to Aki’s fur, not through some mystical power of the cormorants, but because it is warmer here near the ocean than up on Chicken Ridge. Falling snow blurs the outline of the birds and obscures our view of Mt. Juneau. Ravens glide across the downtown streets to catch an uplifting wind or chase others off their territory. They act like football fans in need of exercise after hours in front of a TV. Maybe they just left the Viking Bar after the end of the Arsenal game.