Yesterday it was a beautiful, sunny day and my Maine Coon was eager to go out and explore the arrival of spring. I had to carry her over the stream running down the beach since she's phobic about getting wet, but after that she took the lead. We strolled through the forest, lit by the sunshine and filled with birdsong, and stepped out onto a sandy beach. Katya rubbed and rolled all over it and reluctantly left it behind as I stepped from rock to rock below the forest. When we were kids we used to chase each other over the drift logs and pretend that the beach below was lava. If you slipped and touched the beach you lost a leg to the lava. Those memories came back and made me smile.
We came to an enormous rootwad with an alder tree growing out of it. The first buds of spring were sprouting on it. (See above.)
The tide was all the way out and we had the expanse of the beach to ourselves. Well, almost. There were jellyfish sprawled all over the place, undoubtedly hoping the tide would come in before they were baked by the sun. Katya studied them aloofly, then decided they were too slow moving to be of interest. One jellyfish, down by the waterline, looked like it was making a break for it, back to its ocean home. (See above.)
One of the curious things I've always noticed about Southeast Alaska is how you can be walking on a remote beach with no sign humans had ever set foot in the area and suddenly you'll come across the remnants of those who had gone before. Katya and I came across a buried cable and huge pulley buried in the gravel. It had been commandeered by the barnacles and sea life and no longer belonged to the human world. (See above.)
Katya and I stepped back into the woods on the other side of the beach and found skunk cabbage in full bloom. (Above.) Their bright yellow, bristly stalks are a welcome reminder that spring is here. It made me remember the skunk cabbage wars we had as kids. Those cones can really raise a welt, especially when they are launched from a catapult.
The bright cones also reminded me that bears were said to munch on the cabbage in the spring when they first emerged from their dens and there was nothing else to eat. At this time of year it can feel a bit as if we're under siege since we don't feel it's wise to leave the house without a gun. I had the .44 strapped to my hip, which is not my favorite piece of apparel. For one thing, it's heavy. I always wonder how those cowboys in the Old West didn't develope one larger leg than the other with that weight constantly on one side. A friend and I decided that this was probably how John Wayne developed his famous walk.
At any rate, the sight of the skunk cabbage made me be more alert as we continued our walk.
A little deeper in the woods Katya and I found a swamp. We crossed a mossy deadfall that bisected the dark brown water. We were surrounded by reflections of the forest so that it seemed that the trees grew above and below us. At one point Katya thought this was a really bad idea. That was water on either side! She sat down right in the middle of the log with her back to me, quite plainly saying, "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into." (Above.)
After I got her moving again, she decided we'd had one too many adventures and it was time to head home. As if to say good-bye an eagle wheeled overhead, it's six foot wingspan black against the sky. (Below.)
Tara Neilson (ADOW)