Aki has me worried. I’m pulling on my boots near the front door. Normally my little dog would be here, waiting for me to fasten on her harness. Is she worried that a dog will go after here on today’s walk. She appears, tail wagging, when I slip on a warm parka. Relieved, I drive us north on the Douglas Highway, which offers filtered views of Gastineau Channel. Aki groans when I stop the car to watch pans of new ice riding the incoming tide up channel.
The poodle-mix jumps out of the car when we reach the trailhead and trots down to the beaver pond. This time she freely follows me onto the ice and even dashes ahead after I cross the pond and start up a muskeg stream. There is nothing unusual about the scenery. The stream leads us onto a muskeg meadow dotted with small bull pines. We could be on any one of a dozen such meadows. But this one is unreachable until the pond and stream freeze over. In a month, or even a week, the ice will melt, closing off access to the meadow.
While Aki catalogues the smells, I take off my hat and listen. It’s all silence at first and then, from far off float the working songs of wrens and ravens.