After dropping Aki’s other resident human at the airport, the little dog and I take a pre-dawn walk on the wetlands. The day will break clear, free of clouds. With the rising sun still blocked behind mountains, the sky can only manage a pale pastel blue. 30 or 40 Canada geese huddle in a patch of open water surrounded by river ice. They cluck and complain. It won’t take much to scare them to flight.
Aki runs up and down the empty trail, reading the pee mail. Feeling my gloved hands going numb, I wonder how she thrives in the cold (11 degrees) and wind. I want to photograph a line of mountains on Admiralty Island, now pink with alpine glow. It will mean cold fingers that could become temporarily useless if exposed to the wind for more than a quick snapshot. I risk it. The beauty is too seductive. My index finger loses feeling until it can no longer depress the shutter trigger.
While my right hand warms up in its glove, I’m forced to simply watch the mountains’ faint pink glow brighten and whiten. Aki sniffs at lines of tiny rodent tracks in the snow as I move along the river’s bluff, both. After looking down at the thin river ice to my right, I take extra care not to slip. Behind us, the top half of McGinnis and a companion mountain stand in full sun above the shadowed glacier. A seal riding up the river on the flood tide ripples the mountain’s reflection when it surfaces. Now partially thawed, my index finger returns to work.