Despoiling the Crime Scene


Three eagles stand still as hunting herons at the edge of Fritz Cove. Between the eagles and me, fat flakes of snow fall, softening the birds’ outlines. A cloud of ravens flit in and out of the scene. Food, and lots of it, must be near. Otherwise the eagles wouldn’t tolerate my presence or that of the ravens. Just offshore a harbor seal treads water, only its head shows above the surface. I remember a stripped deer carcass that Aki and I stumbled on when walking by this spot last year. Then a far off shot reminds me that it is still hunting season.


Wanting to leave the birds to their cleanup work, I drive on, passing a large raft of surf scoters moving in unison to form shapes on the waters of the cove like a high school marching band between half of a football game. From a distance they look like a group of composed individuals. But with the help of the telephoto lens, I can see the frantic efforts they make to maintain the group’s shape.


After watching the scoters, I drive to a North Douglas Island trailhead and take the little dog for a walk. So little snow makes it through the forest canopy that I wonder if the storm is tapering off. I stop wondering when we reach a pocket meadow where falling snow collects on the gnarled bark of mountain hemlocks and bull pines. I try, once again, to take a picture that shows what my eye can see: tens of thousands of snow flakes floating down against a background of dark evergreens.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                  We pass back into woods where the blood of a recently killed animal stains the snow. Small bits of the prey animal remain so the kill was recent. Canine prints trample the area making it difficult to determine if this is the work of a wolf or raptor. While I bend low to search for clues, Aki urinates on the evidence.



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