Catkins and Spikes


The Gold Creek valley seems vacant today. A male grouse fills the air with hollow drumming that continues unanswered long enough to make me wonder of there are any of their female kind around. Empty cars wait in the trailhead parking lot. A few joggers trot past but Aki ignores them unless accompanied by another dog. It’s high noon a sunny Saturday. The trails should be crowded.


On the lower slope of Mt. Juneau, cotton-soft catkins and the fragile new growth of elder berry brush represent what we expect from spring: gentleness and hope. But, devil’s club plants send out their spring spikes, making sure that any touch will bring misery, reminding us of the hard side of the season.



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