Darkening Downtown

It’s just gone past two in the afternoon. Full darkness is less than an hour away. Two hours ago the marine layer descended on downtown Juneau, enclosing us in mist. Aki is dragging me up Gastineau Avenue. She pours over sidewalk smells like a accountant on tax day. In her mind, where the nose is king, our walk through Downtown Juneau is stimulating. 

          Visual stimulation appeals more to me. There is little of that now. In the growing darkness, parked cars with new paint jobs look as bright as Christmas candy. Within a few minutes, the electric blue of this new Subaru will fade into the gray. 

           I have to carry the little dog down a set of metal stairs to South Franklin where light glares out from the Red Dog Saloon. With strings of white lights spiraling up their posts, the street lamps look like stale candy canes. Around the corner customers in Pel Meni study their screens while finishing their orders of Russian dumplings.

         A homeless couple, profiles thickened with layers of warm clothes, share a bench under the Marine Park shelter. They ignore a lighted Christmas tree a few feet away. Across the street, the colors in a mural depicting the appearance of man on earth sparkle under twin spotlights. Rainwater trapped in the tire ruts on Marine Way reflect totem animals watching the first man emerging from a clam shell.    

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