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.
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.
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.
While planning where to hike this morning, I look out at the garden where heavy raindrops make the tough kale leaves bounce. No wind blows them off course. Already the storm is soaking the old growth canopy. But the little dog and I still head to the Outer Point Trailhead.
I am not surprised to find the parking lot empty and pleased that nothing falls from the sky. Ironically, inside the forest that usually protects us from the worst of storms, it is raining. Fat drops drip from the canopy of spruce and hemlock. Storm light, more pearl than gray in color, reaches into the forest and turns the surface of a beaver pond into a fairy tale mirror. It might tell Aki that she is the fairest dog in the forest. That wouldn’t be a lie since the place is empty except for local residents like the red-breasted sapsucker hammering into a 100 year old hemlock. The overdressed bird grips an imperfection in the bark with one foot, which in my mind, makes it look desperate, as it pounds yet another hole into the hemlock. Hell for the hungover must be full of such unrelenting woodpeckers.
Today is a sunny as yesterday was rainy. I wanted an early start for our walk but we didn’t make it to the Rainforest Trailhead until mid-day. But the lack of early-morning bird frenzy is made up for by the sunshine that will only reach the forest understory for another hour or so. The bright light clarifies the greens of newly emerging leaves. It also makes the head of a red-breasted sapsucker shine like the queen’s jewels.
The sapsucker is nervous. It flits from tree to tree, staying for seconds in one spot. The little dog and I aren’t responsible for it’s behavior. Each movement of the bird brings it closer. When it does come to rest, it’s on a tree ten feet away, which happens to be flooded in light.