Respectful Silence


Like ravens, gulls, and eagles, you can hear middle school boys in the woods long before you see them. A coven of them spreads out from a fire ring. All but the one sitting by a weak fire are soon out bouncing around the old growth, shouting at each other as the last of the crows and gulls abandon the nearby beach. The boys in the woods all wear bright colored rain gear and, to be honest, smiles.


Aki and I came early to this forest for a quiet, if wet walk through forest and bird song to the beach. I also hoped to bird watch. On our last visit I spotted a small raft of northern shoveler ducks swimming past a stalking heron and godwit. When we break out of the woods today a formation of goldeneye ducks flies away in a panic, leaving the near in waters empty.


I think of the Tlingit elder that once taught me how to make an octopus bag. She also taught my five-year-old daughter the raven and canoe dances. She told the young dancers to keep a respectful silence on our beaches and in our woods. “Don’t even skip rocks,” she said. Even that shows disrespect to wild things.


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