Early Risers


We slip off Chicken Ridge before the trash truck arrives, before the guys at the Capital building start chipping bricks off its façade. Aki and I drive out to the Fish Creek Delta because it is sunny and perhaps early enough to catch some animals in their relaxed, post-dawn state.


Just after leaving the car I spot a young, male Sitka blacktail deer feeding on new grass along the creek. The sound of rushing water must have masked from it the sound of our old Subaru bumping into the parking lot. Aki, busy checking all her pee-mail messages doesn’t notice how the deer’s long black tail bisects its tawny haunches. It jerks slightly each time a car passes over the creek bridge. We won’t see the deer on the return trip.


The purple lupine flowers are peaking beside shooting stars with fading magenta petals. Frost covers lupine leaves in areas of the meadow yet to feel the morning’s sun. Our presence discomforts the resident mallards and surprises to flight a lone, red-breasted merganser. But the song sparrows seem more interested than frightened as they settle on the tops of nearby trees and bushes to sing.


It’s once again low tide so the eagles are out on the exposed flats, bickering at their children like human parents do before the coffee kicks. We walk through columns of mosquitoes without getting bit. Instead of feeding, they form and reform abstract ghosts at the edge of the alder forests. With the rising heat of the day, they will switch from artists to vampires. The little dog and I will be long gone before their transformation.


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