A Bald Eagle flies by the window as I write. Is it hunting neighborhood cats? We saw no eagles on this morning’s walk through old growth forest on Douglas Island. Wet, gray, warm enough to fill rivulets with snow melt and reveal treasures hidden by last weeks snow storm, the weather discourages trail use.
Yesterday I found peace in the gray but yesterday the rain held off until we finished our hike. Today’s rain tests our mettle but doesn’t seem to inhibit the deer sharing this forest with us. He tracked the trail from beach to a blueberry meadow with crisp hoof prints, punching them through soft snow to a layer of melt water below. Something or someone spooked him at meadow’s edge where he darted from trail onto the forest’s deep snow cover, which offers safety but tough going.
Dropping toward the beach we pass a water filled hollow in the snow that shines bright green with plant life, dwarf dogwood pedals stretching out into the water like wings over other tiny forest floor growth, a magic passage to summer. Moisture from captured rain falls into the little transient pond, decorating its surface with expanding ripples.
Nearby water streams over the tops of beaver dams that flooded part of the trail before freezeup. Fooled by snow cover, I break through thin ice, driving my right leg up to mid-calf in cold water. Aki leaps past me and reaches drier ground without a soaking. I join her on her little rise and admire how snow melt over week ice mimics the granite countertops found in trendy kitchens. Without warning a wild eyed dog bursts out of the forest to join us on the now crowded island.
I try all the control tricks learned during a decade of driving dog teams in Southwest Alaska. Nothing deters the invader as Aki cowers between my boots. Off in the woods his owner calls and blows a whistle; noise ignored by all.
Lifting my little dog out of reach I look into the eyes of our unwelcome visitor and find kind interest, not malice. He could be a loyal friend to a person with patience and a little wisdom. Pointing with my unencumbered arm I politely ask him to go home. He does without protest.
We see this big hearted half wild dog several more times during the hike, crashing out of the woods or splashing without concern across a pond’s thin, watery ice. He doesn’t appear after we reach the beach, which he had pockmarked with paw prints. A large raft of ducks, still recovering from the dog’s visit, nervously move into deep water. In minutes they return to hunt the shallows for food.