Aki showed indifference while I pulled on my bike gear and left the house this morning. I didn’t hear her howl when I rode out of the yard and down the steep hill into downtown Juneau. She seemed calm when I took a post-ride shower. But her patience and understanding ran out when I filled a mug with coffee. Okay little dog, we’re going.
I crack open a window to distract Aki and drive over to muskeg meadow. It should be empty of people. No one I know would spend a sunny afternoon hunting and pecking on the muskeg for ripe cloudberries. Only expats from tundra towns or Scandinavia seek them out.
At first Aki refuses to follow me off the gravel trail. She has learned to avoid the normally wet muskeg. But thanks to our recent drought the meadow is dry. She can spring over it in search of interesting smells. After plopping a cloudberry into the container, I look up and spot my little poodle-mix legs up on the muskeg. With the look on her face of an aficionado with a mouthful of perfect ice cream, she rubs her back on something that must smell like doggy heaven.
This is why I choose to ride my bike to Sheep Creek this morning rather than take you there in the car.
That morning, I had heard the scream of gulls before reaching the creek. They fought for position on gravel bars and places in the stream full of holding salmon. A dozen bald eagles held a meeting on the Gastineau Channel beach. Already dead salmon—the kind that dogs love to squirm in—were pilling up on the beach.
In mid-stream, a lone Bonaparte gull landed on a partially submerged rock. While she screeched from her rock, a dog salmon slapped her pulpit with its tail. The little gull flew off and dive-bombed an eagle as it ripped flesh off a dead salmon. Tiny but fierce bird. Kind of like Aki.