In past years, before the spread of Covid, this morning I’d be packing for my annual trip to Skagway for the North Words Conference. In the day after packing, I’d ride an Alaska State Ferry from Juneau north to the old gold rush town. If rain pounded the ferry deck, I’d hunker down in the ship cafeteria and sip coffee. Many times, I’d share a table there with a friend or two, or work on some writing. Since she hated boat rides, Aki the dog would be home in Juneau.
Hoping that most of the flames from the Covid pandemic will be out by then, the North Words folks have postponed this year’s conference until Labor Day Weekend. I’ll probably go if I can. A good friend and I need to drink a toast in front of the Onion Bar for another friend and North Words writer who died last Winter.
To spur thoughts of other things, I take down to the Sheep Creek Delta, now almost totally exposed at low tide. After parking, we skirt a small gang of dog walkers happily chatting with each other near the trailhead. I am always a little jealous of hikers so willing to turn their backs on the natural beauty surrounding them to enjoy each other’s company. Aki starts to head over to the group then turns to follow me onto the exposed beach.
Normally the place is full of ducks and eagles. But this is early summer when many waterfowl move out to the coast to nest and get fat harvesting food. I only spot crows and ravens on the beach. Just offshore, a bald eagle is perched on a navigation warning light. It doesn’t fly off as I walk to the edge of the exposed beach, close enough to photograph him with the mountain crest of Douglas Island in the background.