Aki the Scholar

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Aki and I walk the North Douglas Highway—the part that runs along Smuggler Cove and then the more open Lynn Canal. I’m here for the Orcas: a chance to spot the pod that chases homebound king salmon this time of year. They don’t show. Nothing but driftwood and severed seaweed marks the water’s surface. An immature bald eagle makes an appearance, flying circles over water that might contain baitfish. My little dog, hot on this sunny day in her permanent fur coat, pants in the partial shade of a cow parsnip plant. She will wait there, without complaint until I the eagle dives on eaglefood or I give up on it. After a few minutes it’s the eagle that gives up, flying back to its roost. We hear its high-pitched complaints, perhaps about fishing going to hell, for a half and hour.

Since she showed me such patience during the eagle watch, I give her all the time she needs to study a patch of goat’s beard. She freezes, forces all her concentration on the spot like a scholar would give to a parchment that could form the cornerstone of her thesis. I spend the wait looking at the accessible beauty of the Mendenhall Glacier splayed out like a sunbather between saw-toothed mountain peaks. Next to Aki, I feel like a guy reading low fiction in a rare books reading room.glacier

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