Cold Beauty

I am writing this after walking a very cold beach on Groundhog’s Day. It’s a meaningless pocket holiday designed down south to distract folks in the middle of long U.S. Winters. Before heading over to Sheep Creek, I heard the radio announce that a Pennsylvanian groundhog was caught standing in early morning sun. This, the local expert said with a smirk, meant six more week of winter. 

            We have ground hogs in Alaska. But none will be seen until the spring, after they end their winter hibernation. For us, this February is a time for birds to splash in the stream shallows and fish. This morning, mallards and golden eye ducks are hard at it when we arrive at low tide. 

Rather than drying on the gravel, the little rocks and shells on the Sheep Creek beach are each covered by clear ocean ice. The ice is thicker in low spots on the beach. Because we are so close to the Sheep Mountain Ridge, it dominates our view. The ridge starts to disappear after a city snow plow flies down the road, filling the air with the pure-white snow we drove through to reach the trail head.

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