You know those times where you have an hour, just an hour, to take some sweet down time? A little gap in a busy day to enjoy nature and allow it to flow through your being? In Southeast Alaska that is enough time to have a very nice walk surrounded by the life of the forest. No buildings, no traffic, just the chaotic patterns of another world.
A friend and I went for a walk like that, and at first this forest looked busy, full, and a bit random.
Spruce, alder, devil's club, skunk cabbage, fiddlehead ferns, mosses, lichens...and did no one tell them to be neat and organized in how they grew? The rows and right angles that humans build for themselves are nowhere in sight here!
But in a few minutes the patterns start to resolve in a soothing design.
Cindy showed me her favorite tree in this place; a magnificent spruce that has lived here for hundreds of years.
The nearby creek is a clue to the size of the spruce tree. It is a salmon stream. The spawning salmon do much more than lay eggs for the next generation. Their bodies feed the stream and the forest. Bears catch the fish, often haul them into the forest, eat the yummiest, fattest parts of the fish, and then head back to the creek for another one. The remains of the fish carcasses add precious nitrogen to the soil, feeding the trees. The trees grow bigger and shade the stream, keeping it cool during warm summer weather. The fish need that cooler water in order to survive long enough to spawn.
I think that is a super-cool fish-bear-tree cycle.
The fish haven't come up this stream yet, and the bears are still eating greens and roots.
No steam. The bear had been through hours before we were there.
The only wildlife that we actually saw on our short walk were birds and this guy.
Slugs are a part of the temperate rainforest. Finding the right one at the right time might win you the top prize in a slug race. Its very exciting. (Remember - we live on islands and make our own fun.)
Brutus, in the photo above, got to go about his business undisturbed. Doesn't he look like a tough slug? His beady little eyestalks are looking at you.
Brutus is about five inches long, which is medium-large in our area.
And that is it. I am ready to lay down in the moss of the forest floor and daydream the afternoon away looking up through the big devil's club leaves. Oh, yeah, in less than an hour I am calmed, refreshed, grounded, and able to go back into town with a peaceful outlook.
Try it sometime.
Wishing you the happiness of the natural world,