Sneaking Through the Bear’s Bedroom

I start this meadow walk wondering why I am not afraid. Aki’s caution making machinery is working. She keeps just behind me as we move along trails made by bears. We pass many sections of grass depressed flat by their now large bodies.  We take inventory of one’s recent meal on display in a large pile of black bear scat. 

A bear could be digging roots behind this high wall of ferns or sleeping in that grass covered swale yet all I feel is peace. It’s nuts.

Steep angle shafts of sunlight saturate everything with rich color that confuses my digital camera but pleases the eye. We scare a raft of ducks to flight from a meadow side slough. Their frantic flight takes them seaward while a disturbed great blue heron rises slowly then flies a few hundred paces up the slough. So much power for little noticeable effort. Herons can’t be hurried.

Beyond the meadow a small hill stands between us and Favorite Channel. We take the gentle trail offered past a Marmot den, now quiet. Last Summer we watched a big male whistle out a warning and then keep watch until the kits dived into an opening at the base of a tree. Marmots (gray Alaskan guinea pigs) could audition for a part in Wind in the Willows.   The big males exude bravery as they expose themselves to eagles until their young reach safety.  Water Rat could do worse for a friend. 

After the marmot den the trail leads to a series of pocket beaches ringed with high bush cranberry brush and something similar to the domesticated burning bush plant. Some of the cranberry bushes manage a decent display of red but all the rest show rouge fading to brown. We aren’t in for a repeat of last fall’s spectacular display of color.

Pushing past a bush that last year screamed out “red” to the sun, Aki and drop onto a plain of flat topped boulders to watch the sea. No sun shafts can make it through the thickening marine layer. Last year we watched two seals move into the tiny bay below us but none appear today. On past visits I spotted the tight white cones of whale spume rise out of the sea and then dissipate into a weak dying cloud. Not today.

This has been a day for the unseen — the bear that slept through our visit, the denned up marmots, the absent whales and seals, the reds that would be browns.

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