Aki and I have climbed this gravel road in all seasons, winter through fall. The calendar tells me it is still spring but I recognize the green of high summer when I see it. The showy summer plants have all leafed out and now crowd the road, turning it into a green tunnel. Feeling slightly claustrophobic, I speed up to reach the proper trail to Gastineau Meadows.
As usual, Aki is all about the smells. She drags her tiny feet to buy time for sniffing. I watch her closely as she smells a fresh explosion of bear scat, ready to grab her if she starts to roll in it. She is fully capable of rubbing her shoulders into the foul stuff as her face relaxes into ecstasy. Today she only gives it a cursory sniff before moving onto the meadow.
Here the time of magenta flowers has passed. With the exception of a scattering of chocolate lilies and yellow blossoms I can’t identify, white flowers dominate the meadow. Around dying pine trees, sorrels bloom as do the tasty Labrador tea plants. The lush greenness of the day emphasizes the dead nature of the countless pine skeletons that crowd together on wet sections of meadow. They lived like anorectics on the shallow, poorly drained ground, while meters away Sitka Spruce thrive on better fare.