Adaptable Ducks

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This week the temperature has been going up and down like an elevator. It was 9 degrees F. when the sun broke over Gastineau Channel. An hour later, Aki and I are walking the Outer Point Trail. Recent rain has washed the trail free of ice. No rain falls from the cold clouds this morning. It’s 12 degrees and the wind can’t reach us in the forest. Aki trots along like it’s a summer day.

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No ducks or gulls bob on the waters of the first bay we reach. Waves produced by a north wind pound into the ice that covers shallow portions of the bay. Between Shaman Island and the beach a small gathering of gulls is forming on a rock just now exposed by the ebbing tide.

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The trail takes us back into the woods and then onto a second beach. Just offshore a raft of Barrow golden eye ducks undulates in the waves. They might be the same ducks we saw last week in front of the old Auk Village site. These fish ducks seem nonplussed by the cold and wind that pushes them along the beach. With only a layer of feathers between them and sub-freezing temperatures, how can they thrive and dive in frigid water little dog asks the man wearing insulated overalls, heavy parka, and beaver hat of the dog wrapped in her own heavy cloak.

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