This water ouzel and I are having a moment like Annie Dillard describes in “Living with Weasels.” The plump little bird stares at me. I, through the camera viewfinder, stare at it. When Dillard locked eyes with a weasel, they were both “stunned into silence.” It was like two lovers, or deadly enemies, meeting unexpectedly on an overgrown path. The weasel dived for cover when one of them blinked.
My soul gaze with the water ouzel didn’t break the rhythm of its bobbing in and out of the pond water. I doubt if I had known of the stare down if not for the evidence provided by the camera while it recharged for the next photograph. While Aki, who showed no interest in the ouzel, sniffs for sign of yesterday’s dog traffic, I wonder how much more I might see if I wasn’t distracted by my camera. Minutes later the camera battery dies, allowing me to answer the question.
Under full sun, Aki and I walk down a rain-rinsed trail to the mouth of Fish Creek. The sounds of bickering crows, an out-of-sorts eagle, cautious mallards, displaced Canada geese, and the 9:20 jet from Anchorage coasting to landing in front of the glacier—all seem too sharp, too clear. On the now exposed tidelands, too brilliant light spotlights the hundreds of gulls that hunt and peck for food. Even the green channel marker hams it up.