With the tidal door slowly swinging closed, Aki the poodle-mix, my daughter and I round the little point that forms its door stop on the lower Mendenhall River. Six to eight feet of sloping beach still separate ocean water from rocky barrier. We walk quickly down beach on pebbles glued in place by ice. Full sun blankets the glacier and its mountain consorts but we are in shade. So is a mid-river sandbar covered by noisy ducks and Canada geese. Some float away on cold water, lifted off the bar by the rising sea.
It’s only 1140 but the sun appears to have already set for us behind a ridge of Douglass Island mountains. Then it slides into a notch from where its rays can reach our beach. “What a beautiful place we live,” says the daughter to the dog. She reminds me about the tide. We turn back, finding the beach around the point underwater but not a gap in the rocks through which we make good our escape.
Back on Chicken Ridge, a raven stands atop the utility pole outside our kitchen window, sun lighting a slice of beak and feathers, leaving the rest in shadow. He chants, sending out little puffs of clouds from his beak. Water filling the tea kettle prevents me from hearing the actual song so I make up my own words:
Raven brought the first light
Raven brings this light
be sharing on the solstice