Saying Goodbye

It’s been three week since the last tour buses released their hordes onto the Mendenhall Lake trails. Aki and I are the only ones using the lake margin this morning, if you don’t count a pair of eagles and one very vocal raven. Last night’s rainstorm ended just before we arrived. The ground, leaves, and eagle feathers are still soaked.  

            There is no wind to ruffle the lake’s surface so it can’t mirror the glacier. Only the swirls of a school of silver salmon mess with the reflection until the head of a harbor seal appears about the surface. It must have followed the silvers up the river and into the lake. I wait near the salmon to see if the seal can snatch one until Aki begins to keen. 

            Even after days of heavy rain the lake level has dropped enough for us to beach walk around a peninsula where the arctic tern nest during the summer. The terns have long ago left for their 10,000-mile migration to South America. But the little dog and I still avoid walking over their nesting area, which still feels like holy ground. From the beach I can see scattered feathers, relics of an unfortunate bird who didn’t live long enough to make the long flight south.  

            A large iceberg has come to ground off the tip of the peninsula. Last winter Aki and I might have walked on its surface when it was still part of the glacier. These days I find myself taking many photographs of icebergs. I will not have an opportunity to do it in a few years after the glacier has completed its retreat from the lake.  

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