Why are We Still Here?


In pre-dawn light, it’s hard to distinguish the fisherman from the scattering of ruined wharf pilings that mark the mouth of Sheep Creek. On the opposite end of the creek delta two men in winter-weight overalls work a small gold dredge. Fish and gold, the two targets of Americans that moved to Alaska after Seward purchased the territory from Russia in 1867. Aki, who likes her fish fried and then drenched in soy sauce, isn’t on this beach for salmon or gold. She is here to inventory scents.


It’s thirty-eight degrees but a light channel breeze makes it feel colder. As long as she has new territory to survey, the cold doesn’t bother the little dog. But, when we complete a looping tour of the delta, she refuses to follow me as I walk back toward the channel marker. She knows that no animals, wild or domestic, have marked the path since she trod on it. I walk on, wanting a photograph of the first sun strike on the creek waters.


The gold dredgers have just pulled away in their pickup and the fisherman is packing up. Chilling in the wind, I wonder why I remain on this grey, cold place enticed only by the yellow light striking a cloud over Salisbury Point.

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