“Aki come back here.” The little dog ignores her person’s warning and continues charging the bear. It’s a little bear, born last year, just out on its own. The bear was sniffing around our wheelie bin when Aki charged. If we are going to see a bear in our neighborhood this time of year, it will be on garbage day. The little bear lopes over to our neighbor’s yard where it shelters behind a kayak. For a few seconds the poodle is well within the bear’s reach. With one swipe, the bear could cancel out Aki’s day, if not her life. But it just gives the poodle-mix a puzzled look and walks behind our neighbor’s house. Aki trots back to her people so we can drive out to the wetlands’ trail.
Wild iris, paintbrush, lupine, shooting stars, and buttercups provide little islands of color on the green grassy plain. If that weren’t proof that we are in high summer, the height of the grass would confirm it. The grass forms a thick jungle for Aki to explore. Her humans break trail for her so she has plenty of energy when we return to a well-used gravel trail.
A Savannah sparrow moves in a parallel course while we walk toward the Mendenhall River. It flits ahead a few meters and then lands on a stem of grass, driftwood log, or lupine, holding station until it can confirm our heading. Then it launches itself down the trail to its next observation post. Even though it gives me fierce looks, I can’t imagine what the sparrow would do if I left the path. Maybe it’s a one-bird honor guard, rather than a cop ready to call in back up if the poodle gets out of hand.