Posts Tagged ‘Juneau’

The Salish Sea is close by no matter where we are on Fidalgo Island, but it can lose its sense of immediacy when we’re surrounded by forest, as when we’re walking the trails in the ACFL (Anacortes City Forest Lands) or when we’re in the RV park.

View (with fewest human elements) from our campsite

Sometimes the wind blows the scent of salty water strongly up the long hill to our RV and with it comes a familiar freshening of the spirit that briny air triggers in us both. Living in Juneau, AK, which is tucked in along a narrow stretch of land at the base of steep, forested mountains beside the Gastineau Channel, we were even closer to the changing scene of tides and seasons. We rarely went out on the water, but it had nonetheless a powerful influence in our lives — the dramatic tidal shifts exposing vast muddy flats and tilting gangways to precarious levels at ebb; the everpresent smell of brine; the salmon runs; the enjoyment of buying fresh salmon, halibut and spot prawns from small commercial fishing boats down at the docks; wind-whipped waves breeching the barrier to spray cars driving along Glacier Highway north of downtown. Here in Washington, we no longer feel the elemental connection, due to the much larger human presence and all that entails, but we are more aware of the sea than when we lived in the area previously.

Brian & Annie examining tidal pool

On a recent walk in Washington Park on the northwest edge of Fidalgo Is., we watched Black Oystercatchers poke their long, vividly red bills among big rocks at the water’s edge while out on the water Cormorants and Buffleheads dove for food. Still further out, against a backdrop of mountains made miniature by distance, pleasure boats, small commercial fishing vessels, immense ferries and barges being towed by tugs passed to and fro. The forest still grows right down to the rocky shore on this part of the island. On a walk through the center of the park we came to an open area where tall trees gave way to shrubs of human height and suddenly we heard, but could not see, a tiny fighter plane buzzing by repeatedly and firing on us. A hummingbird in defense of it’s territory or nest, but what type of hummingbird we’ll never know because it was too quick for us.

Bark of the Madrone tree

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