Herding Her People


Aki and I walk with an old friend along the Auk Village beach. Yielding to her herding instinct, the little poodle works to keep us together. Our friend is gentle and has spent his life helping others. I sometimes wonder if Aki senses this and it makes her protective.


Remnants of yesterday’s storm move toward us from across Lynn Canal. But for the moment there are blue rents in the gray skies over Stephens’ Passage. The sun, trying to burn through the marine layer, spotlights a rocky island sometimes used as a haul out by marine mammals. Near shore a loon pops up, gives us a look, and slides beneath the surface.


The loon appears to follow us down the beach, moving quickly underwater then popping like a cork near our position. When we reach the canoe haul out area of the old Auk Village my friend wonders out loud if the loon is a spirit animal. I’ve learned not to discount these things but think it is more likely that the loon is just following the fish it hunts in the waters of the bay. That’s when the clouds of the squall block out sun and blue skies and the first of its snow load begins to fall on the little dog and her charges.


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