Category Archives: Dahl Porpoise

Skagway Cricketers


I’m in Skagway, a town eighty miles up the Lynn Canal fjord from Juneau. Having no need of writer’s school, Aki is back home. During a break between classes I am riding my bicycle on the road to the old gold rush town of Dyea. On my right a red-breasted sapsucker hammers a tin mail box, repeatedly striking the words, “U.S. Male” with its beak. I wonder about the bird’s politics.1

It’s a relief to escape class and the town of Skagway, now filled with 13,000 cruise ship visitors. Later on the ride I will pass a group of cruise ship workers playing cricket on a baseball field. They are short one bat so they have to make due with a section of alder. I think of the cricket game I once watched never Devon, England on a perfect pitch where the batters wore pads and the bowlers a wooden ball. The rubber one used by the cruise ship crickets didn’t yield that satisfying “crack” when hit that a wooden ball produces. But today’s game brought the guys joy. 3



Aki needs some beach time so we head to the old Auk Village site. It is still snowing when we arrive. We are at the tail end of the storm that left a foot of white stuff on the old growth forest floor. The little dog and I move down a well-packed trail as wet snow and melt water drip from the trailside spruce. We are soaked by the time we drop down onto the snow-free beach.


As Aki chases after her Frisbee, I scan the crescent-shaped bay for life. In addition to the usual confab of gulls, harlequin ducks, and crows, I spot a small pod of Dahl porpoise hunting just offshore. They, well porpoise: briefly break the bay’s surface then dip back beneath the water. It happens fast, too fast to see anything but backs and dorsal fins. Unlike their larger cousins, the whales, the porpoise don’t form a noticeable plume when they exhale. But their rolling through water shinning silver with storm light still gives me a thrill.