Ice and Eagles

Aki stands on the other side of a thick strip of slick ice. She crossed it with only a minor slip, thanks to the handy nails on her claws. I was trying to figure out the best way to cross the barrier when she moved to the other side with a poodle’s nonchalance. I could call her back but I’d like to join her on the False Outer Point beach trail. All that stands between me and it is the two-meter thick ice stream.

            Hunching over like one of my Neanderthal ancestors, I crab across the ice, reaching the relative safety of the snowy trail in time to bag a pile of poop just deposited by the little dog. Fortunately, I only have to leap across an icy section of trail to reach the trash can.

            The usual raft of Barrow golden eye ducks float just off the beach. But the usual rope of severed seaweed is absent. Recent storm tides must have carried it away. In exchange, the tide dropped a driftwood log—the corpse of a hemlock that had been twisted by years exposed to the wind. One of the knotholes mimics the eye of a judgmental whale. No human abstractionist could capture the life story of the tree that is there in the tree’s grain for any passerby to see.

            I stumble on a barnacled-covered rock while rounding the point. The sound of it startles an eagle to flight. As snow pellets start to fall, the eagle catches an updraft and is soon high over Fritz Cove.  As Aki waits patiently by my side, the eagle circle over the water. In seconds its mate joins it. A minute later there are four eagles circling above the cover, then six. Together they climb until lost to use in the snow clouds.

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