Little Shepherd in the Snow

Walking with Aki

Aki and I have guests this week. One is Lulu, a low-slung dog that is struggling to walk on the snowy trail to Nugget Falls. Aki is more than happy to wait for Lulu, serving as her gentle shepherd. We are walking over glacial moraine in the snain (snow mixed with rain).

It is snaining in Downtown Juneau too, where Aki lives. But snow no longer covers the street or sidewalks. Low clouds hide Mt. Juneau and the Douglas Mountain Ridge. On the moraine we can just make out Mt. McGinnis. But the clouds hide the mountains and towers that rise above the Juneau Icefield. Snow covers much of the glacier so it glows white, rather than ice blue.

            When we reach the falls, we are hit by a wind channeled by the mountains down the Nugget Creek Valley. It carries mist from the falls that would soak the little…

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Christmas Dog

Walking with Aki

Before we left the house, Aki’s other human affixed a gingerbread-themed sticker in the middle of her forehead. This makes the little dog the most Christmassy thing today in the Treadwell Woods. She has little competition. The wood is full of hundred-foot tall spruce trees, some decorated by a flock of dark eyed junkos. Plumped up against the cold, the little songbirds could pass for Christmas ornaments. But the snow that flocked the big trees yesterday has been melted away by this morning’s rain.

            Helped by strong wind blowing up Gastineau Channel, an 18-foot-high tide covers Sandy Beach. Without being stopped by a protective beach barrier, waves erode away the soil into which trees along the wood’s edge have sunk their roots. The only things exhibiting holiday happiness are a dozen merganser ducks offshore. They are so at home in the turbulent water that they preen their feathers as they…

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Ravens All The Way

Walking with Aki

Aki ignores the raven squawking on roof of the old Norwegian Consulate. The little dog also ignores the quarter-sized snowflakes settling into her grey curls. She is deciphering an important pee mail message. When raven dived bombs the poodle-mix. She charges after it until reaching the end of her leash. By then the raven is safely sitting on another roof. 

We drop off Chicken Ridge. I am careful not to slip on the slushy snow. I wish that the snow could survive another day to give us a white Christmas. Our neighborhood totem pole still wears a crown of snow. But the Russian church cupola is already bare.

            A raven flies into the frame as a I try to photograph the church. Two other ravens land nearby, affecting interest in an overflowing recycle bin. We climb up Gastineau Avenue and find at the crest, a flock of pigeons arranged like…

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Raven Speak

Walking with Aki

Raven could have roosted on a fence rail, cottonwood tree, or even the Saviko Park totem pole. He could be squatting on the cab roof of the beater pick-up truck with flat tires. Instead he has perched himself on top of a “permit parking only” sign near the small boat harbor. As the little dog and I approach, another raven lands on a fence rail and looks upat the permit parking only raven. Both fly off when Aki and I close to within ten meters. 

            I wish I could speak the local raven dialect, understand what the birds mean to saw when they mimic the sound of a Subaru’s electronic lock. By the way one raven looks at another that just croaked, clucked, or cawed, I know they communicate with each other. When the duplicate the sound of my car locking, are they trying to communicate with me?

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