Category Archives: Sitka

Eye Wide Open

Today’s heavy rain must have dampened people’s desire to hike. The little dog and I have the Outer Point Trail to us. It leads us through a silent forest. No birds or squirrels break the quiet. Storm clouds have grounded the airplanes that usually fly over our heads on their way to one of the Admiralty Island villages. The quiet is a reprieve from the noise of airports with their multi-lingual amplified announcements and over-loud conversations that hammered me during the return home from Sweden. 

            Rainwater swells the forest ponds and streams, which threaten to flood low lying sections of the trail. Fat raindrops turn the broad skunk cabbage leaves into a percussive orchestra. The rain forest drought is broken. 

Aki hurries me toward the beach, now partially flooded by a high tide. Half a kilometer away, at the mouth of Peterson Creek, two bald eagles hunch to avoid aerial attacks from a gang of gulls. The eagles screech out protests and then launch a counter attack, abandoning the salmon carcasses they had been scavenging.  

            Late arriving pink salmon fly out of the water, making a noisy splash on their reentry. The heads of two seals and a sea lion appear and disappear above the surface of the water. One of the seals swims close to the shore and lifts its head up and out of the water for a better view of the little dog and I. 

I think of the seals that I saw performing a Lofoton aquarium; how they had their eyes squeezed shut in every photo I took of them. I know that when I look at the pictures I took of the Outer Point seal, its eyes will be wide open. 

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Silver Bay

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Yesterday, Aki was whimpering under an airline seat. The airplane took the little dog and her two humans to Sitka, on the outer coast of South East Alaska. Today, she appears to have forgotten the traumatic twenty-minute flight. We walk on a causeway that links a series of small islands in Silver Bay. Most of the place’s original wildness has been tamed away by carpenters and landscapers. But it’s early summer here and the house owners years ago planted rhododendrons that are now flowering. When no boat is passing, we can hear the hermit thrush’s song and small waves dying on the rocks.2

Just offshore schools of dolly varden char worry salmon smolt into panicked balls. Some of the smolt leap in the air in an effort to escape the hunters. The pure, intense morning light overwhelms my digital camera. But the thing manages to photograph a large, green glass ball that someone us using as a float for their anchor line. These glass balls were once common as kelp in the fishing industry. Now you only find them in high-end tourist shops and museums. I am glad to see the owner of this one dedicated it to its intended use.1