Silent Beach


I should know what to call that mountain, little dog. When I check a map later, I’ll learn that its name is Thunder. But this morning, it is just another tooth in the saw blade of mountains that dam the Juneau Icefield. Aki doesn’t care about mountains or their names. She worries about eagles. We keep to the beach’s brush line even though it’s as quiet as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.



Last night the trail’s tidal door closed. Now it opens on the ebb. But seawater still covers most of the beach and the sand bars that form the mouth of the Mendenhall River. I lead Aki around several headlands, each time expecting to see eagles, otters, ravens, or song birds. When none appear, Aki trots across a widening sand bar to a driftwood root wad where eagles like to roost at low tide. After nosing small surf striking near the wad, she turns back to the brush line. An eagle launches from a spruce deep in the forest and flies over us. Minutes later two other eagles play chase over the river. The one behind extends its talons like they do when diving on prey or seeking to mate. A gull dives on them, breaking up their fun.





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