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Otter Distractions

The rain returned. It started accumulating on the willows and alders last night. If the sun appeared, it would make the wet leaves sparkle. But rain, not sun, controls as Aki and I are pass through the ruins of a gold mine city.

In minutes we reach Sandy Beach, empty except for a small clutch of shore birds the fly low over the ocean water. 100 year old bits and pieces of rotting iron muscle out of the beach sand. They will disappear beneath of beach sand during the next storm surge. I spot an otter crossing the collapsed mine. I’d like to take its picture and would if not for a sandpiper that lands nearby and starts squireling at the little poodle and I.  It lets us get very close and the flies off a few feet where it continues to complain. In the meantime the otter slips away.

Feathers on a Sunny Day

Aki is trotting in front of me, hurrying back to the car. She used a lot of time on the walk to the beach smelling and marking the trail. While she recorded her story, I daydreamed behind her, stopping from time to time to enjoy splashes of color ramping up the summer flowers.

            We often spot eagle feathers scattered on beaches, trails, or meadow grass. A smart guy would haul them home. But the federal government makes it illegal to do that. So for over 40 years, I’ve treated them like little splotches of untouchable beauty. Sometimes they look stunning. Other times, they are just boring. This afternoon, I almost stepped on a pure-white tail feather soaking up the sun on a tiny beach. Later I almost asked a fluffy patch of brown and white down to help me fly.          

Arboretum Blues

Aki is not here. Since she is a dog she must stay home. Dogs are not allowed to visit the arboretum that blossoms north of Juneau. I am not worried about her absence. She already had a nice little neighborhood walk this morning. At her age, she probably prefers an afternoon snooze on this sunny day to a wander around our town’s beautiful little garden.

            We were lucky to find an empty space to use in the arboretum parking lot. Given that crowd of cars, I had expected the little garden to be jammed with drivers. But, it turned out we had no reason to worry. Most of the drivers were being guided around towers of flowering fox gloves by the main gardener. After soaking up sunshine and flowering plants, I walked down to the beach to watch rolling salmon glide in and out of the bay waters.

Subtle Beauty

It’s the middle of summer in the southern rainforest. Things are settling down. On the Gastineau meadows, the colorful displays of fireweeds, chocolate lilies, and stalks have already died back. A scattered collection of white fireweed chunks stand scattered people waiting for a train.

            I love the powerful spring beauty of early spring. But the lovely, if subtle nature of a scattering of fading flowers can help us make it through summer’ end.

100 Year Old Pottery

It’s raining today. It’s raining soft and steady with little wind. It’s raining onto Sandy Beach, where the little dog and I walk. Normally, on this wet weekday morning, we’d have the place to ourselves. But today we share it with a colorful mother and her teenage kid. They wander across the open beach, heads down, picking up bits of 100 year old pottery just revealed by last night’s strong tide surge.  

Nice and Quiet

We walk through the rain, my pants getting more and more soaked as we walk down a narrow trail. Last week, the path seemed find. But we are turning the summer corner and heading toward fall. The tall grass, more taller than me, is closing in.

            While my pants soak, Aki keeps dry as she slides between the tall grass. We move onto a cleared trail of gravel and head out to the Mendenhall River. I can hear birds sing or watch us as we watch then move by. But no ducks or even eagles show themselves. They are someplace else, slamming food from the rivers or ponds, leaving me to count the large collections of wildflowers heading toward seed.

A Little Break

We are walking along the Outer Point Beach. It seems like a dead place this morning. No eagles hang out on beach-side trees. No gulls bicker over scraps in the shallow beach. No whales breach off shore. It is just seems still, almost hopeless until we spot the great blue heron.

            The long necked heron waddles along a rocky section of the beach, freezing to stare beneath of water before moving a few more inches down the beach. Then, it throws Aki and I a little glare, and turns back to her work. In seconds she snatches a small fish in her beak and takes a long time sliding it down her long neck.

Comfortable Day

Oooh Aki. You look like a sailor today. We are on a tiny beach, hidden from the rest of Juneau by screens of willow growth. Soon a small group of tourists will walk into our view. We can hear then chattering as they move closer. But now, the little dog and I have the place to ourselves. No one can block out views of the Mendenhall Glacier.

            We are both sitting on the gravel beach. Aki leans again my knee and lets me gently rub her soft curls. Then, she moves slowly to the beach and walks into the lake until she stands chest deep in the water. As large chunks of cottonwood seed pods float in the air around Aki, she drinks from the lake. In seconds she turns back, he legs now soaked with lake water. I should probably start walking back to the car. But the little dog needs a few more minutes of petting before we can.

Finally, A Sunny Breakthrough

This time of summer, when the temperature rarely climbs above 60 Degrees F. the presence of sunshine means a lot. When Aki and I started our morning walk along Mendenhall Lake, clouds blocked sunshine. Even ten minutes or so, a shaft of sunshine would burn briefly through the clouds, lighting wild flowers with color. In seconds it would disappear, returning the lake to it’s usual flat-light colors.

            Then, the sun forced away the clouds for good, making even the most plain little wildflowers look like gems.

Back Home

It’s a good thing to do, walking for the first time in a couple of weeks, for me to walk along Gold Creek. It’s midsummer. Summer light hits here and there on the trail, bringing out right colors on the flowers it can reach.

            Last night Aki joined us back when we came back from Montana. This morning, we found her sleeping under a bed. But she melting in a more normal state as we ate a pancake breakfast. She seemed the most happy when one of us held her. She’s getting to that age.