The Piano Has Been Drinking


Aki and I are driving out the North Douglas Highway toward the Rainforest Trailhead. It’s raining. Tom Waits is singing one of his downer songs. The piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking. Not me. Waits writes the best music for rainy day road trips.

The little dog has insinuated herself in my lap, content to listen to Waits and watch the windshield wipers snap back and forth across the windscreen.

2After we pass the boat harbor, with its fair weather view of the glacier, strong wind gusts buffet the car. I tell the little dog: We’ll just make a quick dash around the trail and then dry out during the drive back home. But as often happens at the tip of Douglas Island, the wind and rain drop off. We barely notice either during our walk through the forest to the beach. It’s even calm on the beach. A half-mile away on Lynn Canal, strong winds bother the water into waves.


I think of the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter that searched in front of Juneau all of yesterday for the two men who drowned during a short skiff ride on Gastineau Channel. At low tide, you can walk across the channel where they were lost. But the extreme tidal changes that day, from a plus 19 foot to a low of 1.9 must have flushed their bodies into Taku Inlet. Maybe I should listen to Beethoven’s 6th on the ride home.

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