Are crows the masters of wind and memory? While eagles roost in wind shadows and gulls hunker in the protection of tall grass, crows play in the gusts above the Fish Creek wetlands. Aki shelters beneath dancing fireweed stalks. I watch the crows surrender to updrafts and then furl their wings into dives that end just above the spruce tips of a small wooded peninsula.
Two female deer ease out of the woods and mince down to a beach covered with severed rockweed. Wind that carries fireweed down over my shoulder to them makes our presence known. But rather than breaking back into the woods, they slowly move along the beach until they are past.
After the deer have passed, Aki and I round the wooded peninsula. The little dog lets me lead on the tall trail grass first so I can knock all last night’s rain off the bending leaves and create a newly dried path for her passage. On the peninsula tip we surprise an immature bald eagle perched on a beach. Even the wind gusting around the point can’t hide out approach. With a surprising lack of grace, the eagle ends its short flight with a plunge into the creek. After flapping around like a drunk just fallen into a swimming pool, the eagle breaststrokes over to the little island it was shooting for when it hit the water. Was the eagle victimized by a sudden burst of wind?
Aki and I must lean into the wind on the way back to the car, wind that plays with the wheat-yellow grass and reddening fireweed stalks and lifts crows. It carries the voices of the king salmon snaggers on Fish Creek Pond, fireweed down, and memories. The down always reminds me of my child on an Alaskan beach to August, skipping rocks as fireweed down flies:
From eagle feathers and fish bones
memories float up off this beach
like fireweed down in August.
Eagle flies from a spruce bough
circles then drops to the sea.
She submerges talons that pull
a herring dinner skyward.
My toddler daughter watches
as others clap amazement.
I want to dive into the memory
surface just after the capture
ask if my baby feels pity
or admiration, my child
of forest and beach
who falls asleep to the music
of wind and tides.