Local Knowledge

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This morning Aki will meet a scary looking but nice dog and a nice looking dog that will act scary.  Both interactions will have peaceful outcomes. We won’t meet anyone else on our walk along the shore of Mendenhall Lake.

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I am surprised to have the spectacular scenery to ourselves this morning. The low clouds that had been obscuring the glacier and its mountains have lifted. No wind prevents the lake from making perfect reflections of them. Only sunshine would ramp up the beauty. But that would also raise a wind to shatter the crisp reflections.

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As usual when taking this walk, I am moving down a mucky beach while Aki parallels me on a mossy forest trail. Suddenly she is at my side being chased by a hulking American bulldog. Aki ducks between my legs and then burst out to chase the bulldog. In seconds I know the new arrival is a sweet guy. In distance we hear his owner’s voice. She will tell us how she lives nearby and will display a local’s knowledge of the beavers that raise their young near where she raises her’s.

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I envy the relationship the bulldog owner has with this dramatic slice of the rain forest.  Except for the neighborhood ravens, wild animals only transit through our Chicken Ridge neighborhood. We encourage the porcupines to move on before they devour more of our fruit trees. We pray that black bears will spend more time on the salmon streams than knocking over neighborhood trash bins. I’d like the song birds to spend longer in our trees but they are too busy to comply. Mostly we see cars and dog walkers.

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Feeling a little sorry for myself, I lead Aki onto a road through an empty campground. Around the corner a nuclear family of three approaches accompanied by a border collie.  The dog drops it head and tail and pads towards us like we are rebellious sheep. It growls and barks when Aki moves toward it. Aki looks shocked but soon recovers.  We will never see the collie or her human charges again. But the dog’s bark will reach us from across the forest many times before we return to the car.

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