Category Archives: rain

The Usual Posse

 

1 (7)

The heavy rain that started Saturday continues to rinse Juneau’s streets clean. Aki and I are seeking shelter from it in the Treadwell Ruins’ forest. Wrapped as I am in waterproof clothing, I can enjoy the rain as long as it isn’t accompanied by wind to whip drops into my face. Aki has only her curly fur and a water resistant wrap. Rain darkens her fur and soaks her wrap but she doesn’t seem to mind.

1 (4)

Out on the beach, the usual posse of eagles and ravens monitor for suspicious activity. The ravens do this with style, strutting about as if they ordered the weather.

1 (6)

One of the eagles clutches the metal ridgeline of the old ventilator shaft. It looks like is about to say, “What’s all this then?” The other roosts on the top of a rusting anchor. Both watch Aki run circle around a Bernese mountain dog that has just galumphed over for a visit.

1 (5)

Advertisements

Having Her Way

1 (3)

Any dog trainer watching Aki and I this morning would be shaking her head in disgust. Rather than exerting dominance over the little poodle-mix, I let her set the pace. A dog whisperer of kind words rather than commands I even yield to her choice of direction. When I put up a fuss, she lets me drag her across Gastineau Avenue so I can take a picture of today’s collection of cruise ships. Otherwise I follower her zigzagging pee trail.

1 (2)

Yielding responsibility to the ten-pound dog frees up my mind for wandering. I’m daydreaming about the cats that use to live in the nearby ruins of the old stamp mill when two deer does spring out from behind a screen of salmon berry bushes and hop down Gastineau like kangaroos. They sprong past a low-income apartment complex and up the hillside.

1 (1)

Aki, so intent on cataloguing scent, never sees the deer. She leads me down to the docks and then up Lower Franklin Street past the Red Dog Saloon, Pilipino Hall, and the homeless shelter. She drags me away from a young man rapping out a poem. We climb up toward Chicken Ridge and into Capital School Park. A bronze chair in the park commemorates the forced internment of the high school valedictorian just before graduation just because his grandparents came to Alaska from Japan. Rain beads up on the bronze chair and a small string of origami cranes formed, out of necessity in the rain forest, with waterproof materials. Aki waits for me photograph them.

1

 

Rainforest Eagles

1 (8)

Last night Aki and her other human waited for me to deplane at the Juneau Airport. When a puppy, she would have squealed and squirmed when I walked out of the TSA waiting area. Now she just lets me lift her into my arms. This morning we walk through a rain forest that would be quiet if not for the songs of thrush and wren. Hard, green berries hang from the blue berry brush and the white buds of crabapple flowers swell with rainwater. It’s good to be home.

1 (9)

As Aki puzzles over newly deposited scent, I sneak onto a beach that borders the forest. In close there is only a robin trying to lead us away from its nest with moves designed to give a predator false hope of an easy meal. From a spruce tree behind us an eagle screams. Otherwise the skies are as empty as the little bay. Far off shore a kayaker has come to rest on the flat-calm water. I wish we could trade places with him. Sun shines on a valley on Admiralty Island, giving me reason to hope for at least a partial suspension of the rain.

 

1 (4)

We are about to break back into the woods when three eagles drop from perches on Shaman Island and dive toward the same spot in Lynn Canal. When one looks ready to snatch some food from the water, the other two eagles dive on it. In seconds all three birds are flying at each other like fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain. The eagle that we heard earlier does a flyby at a safe distance and settles onto a spruce branch of the island to watch the show, which now has shifted from a dogfight into a loosely scripted ballet. Ravens, with their cleaver efforts to harvest man’s excesses, I understand. But eagles, I just don’t get.

1 (7)

 

He Promised

 

1 (2)

This week’s storm is at the volatile stage. Wind gusts tear up and then coalesce the cloud cover.  Wind driven rain strikes Aki and I as we start down the Outer Point Trail. Just a few hundred meters in, shafts of sunshine hit the forest floor. Leaks in the damns of overworked beavers pour onto the trail where it rounds their pond. Good thing for them that the storm is weakening. Good thing, too, for Aki and I. The rain-swollen pond now covers part of the trail with boot-high water. If the rain doesn’t slacken we won’t be able to use one of our favorite trails.

1 (3)

The tide is receding when we reach the beach but the causeway between Shaman Island and us is still underwater.  At the water’s edge an immature bald eagle rests on a rock. Two mature eagles bicker at each other from their perches on the island. The immature bird is watching a small raft of ducks fly back and forth over the sunken causeway.

1 (1)

After the immature bird flies away, I walk toward it’s rock. Aki is slow to follow. I think of a recent BBC post of a bald eagle lifting a fox in the air.  The eagle’s talons dug into a rabbit the fox was carrying and not the fox itself. But the blow snapped about the fox’s body as if it were a rag doll. Looking at my reluctant little poodle-mix, I wonder it she accesses our computer while her humans sleep. (http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-44250472/fox-catches-rabbit-then-eagle-swoops-in)

1

Sunshine floods Stephen’s Channel between Shaman and Admiralty Islands even though it is raining. The resulting rainbow forms a low, multicolored arc over the water. I remember how, according to the Bible, God filled the sky over Noah and his family with a rainbow to commemorate His promise to never again allow the total flooding of the earth. I think about our weatherman’s promise of an end to the rain by mid-week. I wonder if the beavers will be upset or relieved when the rains stop.

Small Birds and Shooting Stars

1 (1)

“Oh,” is all I said. But it was enough to spook a great blue heron to flight. The bird and I surprised each other. It was wading in a small pond. I had just climbed onto a dike that bordered its fishing waters. For a few seconds I could see the surprisingly large swell of its belly before the heron’s big wings lifted it into the air. In several more seconds, the bird was more than halfway across the meadow.

1

Three eagles that had been bickering over someone in the meadow grass also took to air. But a robin froze like a statute at the top of a young spruce. Later a swallow, after bouncing it chest five or six times on the pond surface, gazed at me from a perch on the thinnest branch of a bare alder tree.

1 (4)

This morning only small birds posed for us. But shooting stars and lupines made up for it.

1 (2)

 

Clever Crows and Dancing Eagles

1

Is there any color more calming than green? If Aki has an opinion on this, she is keeping it to herself. We just left an intensely green old growth forest and stand at its edge, watching the local crows hunting through rock weed for food. They might be crushing the shells of hermit crabs or figuring out ways of opening tightly closed shells. I’ve seen then rip mussels from pilings, drop them when twenty or thirty feet above a concrete sidewalk, and pick meat from the broken shells.

1 (1)

Beyond the crows, a small raft of harlequin ducks splash and squeal like toddlers on the playground. Aki, who has little interest in ducks or crows, stands with the posture of someone about to run out patience. She wants to return to the forest. If she expects a dog contact, she will be disappointed. It’s early on a rainy morning after a long stretch of sunny weather. Most of the Juneau trail users are home, happy to have an excuse to stay in their dry homes nursing a second cup of tea or coffee. We won’t see anyone on the way back to the car.

1 (2)

Calmed by my time in all that rain-washed green, I barely notice a cloud of eagles that hovers over Fritz Cove while we drive down the North Douglas Highway. Twenty or thirty of the big birds jockey for position over a dark spot on the water like gulls over a ball of panicked herring.

1 (5)

Thinking that they might be drawn to a feeding whale, I pull over to watch. Whales, like Stellar seal lions, are sloppy eaters. Gulls often hover over them, hoping to clean up the scraps. Some the eagles drop toward the water then pull skyward with empty talons. But no bubble-feeding humpback crashes out of the water, maw opened wide.

1 (3)

The party apparently over, the eagle cloud lifts into the air and moves toward our car. Soon they are circling over my head, performing a dance with moves too complicated for me to understand. Fifty feet away, one mature eagle squats in the road verge looking wet, and to me, a little disgusted with the flying eagles. Is it too old to play or too wise to chase shadows in the water?

1 (4)

Things Returning

1 (2)

Let’s get this out of the way. It’s raining. It’s raining for the first time in a week Drops cling to emerging leaves and blueberry blossoms. They soak into Aki’s grey fur. The rain doesn’t slow down the little rain forest dog. She muscles ahead over a low ridge and then leads me down to the beach.

1 (3)

I was hoping we would see whales or at least Steller sea lions after we leave the woods. But no cetaceans break the surface of Favorite Channel. We normally walk down the beach before returning to the trail. But someone is camping out in a tent. While taking a lesser-used trail to return to the forest, we are surprised by a pair of bickering, red-breasted sapsuckers. So intent on their territorial battle, they don’t notice us until we are only ten feet away.

1 (1)

When we return to the place the sapsuckers battled, we will have seen iridescent sea anemones jammed together in a tiny tide pool, several sea lions, and our first humpback whale of the year.

1