The Cleveland Volcano out on Chuginadak Island has seen an increase in activity lately. There was a 7.2 earthquake out there earlier this month and now AVO has raised the advisory level to the dreaded “Yellow”.
—Photo courtesy of AVO, Doug Dasher, ADEC and Max Hoberg, School of Fisheries, UAF
I looked out the door this morning at 6:30 to see the rain coming down, and I even tried to be disappointed as I immediately made plans to take the day off. Obviously, one can not work on a roof in this weather.
When I booted up the computer, there was an email from a very good friend “out east”. Somewhere between reading and replying to the email, it had a peculiar effect. All the talk of hiking, fishing, hunting and “getting ready for winter” I realized that I hadn’t done any of these things this summer. In my quest for the dollar, I have been working seemingly nonstop, and in the process, taking Alaska for granted. Which does happen, but it is still a bit of a pisser to come to that conclusion.
I ended up writing all morning, then felt compelled to make my way out to the Back Pond. One of the negatives of this blog, is that I have ventured completely away from shooting film. The ease and instant gratification of digital has taken its place. So I grabbed the Nikon, which has been hanging from its place on a doorknob for ages, installed new batteries in my old, juice-sucking digital camera… just in case, pulled on my rubber break-up boots and headed out for the muskeg.
Even when I do find myself taking all of this for granted, it doesn’t take too long to recenter, as it were. All I have to do is make some sort of effort. Here I am, just a short distance from town, and suddenly I am following a moose trail through swampland. The sound of cars dies away, and a small flock of sandhill cranes fly overhead bugling in their prehistoric way. I am able to take one picture of the cranes with their wings set, and their legs dangling downward as they come into a landing on the edge of the Back Pond.
I am so engrossed with the cranes, that I don’t realize I am standing twenty feet away from a cow moose and her twin calves. All three are eating, and even though the mother doesn’t seem to be too concerned about me, she is definitely keeping an eye on me all the same. I raise the Nikon, pull the trigger, and nothing happens. Frustrated, I look at the camera to see the red, Battery Is Dead Stupid, light on. I can not recollect the last time I had this camera out. So I watch the moose for quite some time, until they start to move off for a different patch of grass and I remember that I did bring that nasty old digital camera along too.
Crossing the open muskeg towards the pond with the cranes, I am surprised at how many blueberries there are already. The field is completely covered in them, and I can not walk through without crushing berries with every step. So I pick berries as I walk, with my feet occassionally breaking through the vegetation to the boggy water beneath. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that my rubber boots are no longer water tight. They were fine the last time I put them on, but I’m not really sure when that was. It has been rather dry here until recently, I reason with myself. But that only reminds me that I have not been halibut fishing since my Dad’s last visit, when the woods were so dry that we had wildfires surrounding Fairbanks.
I push on with wet feet, and find a fallen spruce to sit on to watch the cranes. I really do need to make an effort to get out more often.