October snows drive some Alaskans south to the sun belt. Others retrieve their skis from storage. Either way, these first snows have power and if you believe, magic. Aki acts like a believer. This morning she patrols the Sheep Creek delta during a shower of wet October snow.
I should have taken the little dog to a mountain meadow where five inches of white must cover the ground. She loves to slide her face through soft snow, emerging with the same blissful smile she displays while rolling in beaver scent or bear poo. But last night’s high tide has washed the delta clean of snow. She makes do with scents left on a few patches of high ground by passing dogs.
On a channel marker, a bald eagle stares through the snow at Douglas Island. Behind her a large raft of mallards crowds against the shore while a seal prowls nearby waters. The seal has no chance of duck for breakfast but it still watches for an opportunity. Aki and I walk towards the creek mouth where another raft of ducks hunt for food. When the sky behind us fills with mallards, I look for the dog walker that must have spooked them. But the beach is empty so the seal must have made a play.