Tuesday, April 30, 2013


      Benson jumps up, and cocks his head, listening.  It's the quiet of the morning, the semi-dark still before the valley wakes.  I open the window.  It's brisk, not frigid, almost Spring.  Clouds have moved in.  The air is heavy.  Benson snuffs.  Whatever he hears, I can't, at first.  Maybe, I think, there is a bear in the neighborhood, or a moose.  Perhaps a neighbor is returning late from the bars, singing badly.  But then, from the direction of the river a mile distant, a single moan.  I know wolves follow the  trails between the coastal forest and the mountains behind the house, but I've never heard them before. Ben's ears are raised, intent.  Another voice in the distance joins in, and the first becomes louder, more soulful.
      Across the Glenn, folks have lost pets off their porches, even people have been circled and threatened.  One incident led to a thinning of the pack, shooting them from helicopters on base.
      Several wolves are in the song now, and "haunting" doesn't describe the feeling I'm feeling.  There is emotion in the sound, character and timber in the voices, hollow reverb as the echo bounces around the canyon.  I shiver.  Since breakup's begun I haven't used the woodstove, but it's stoked and ready to go. I'll be lighting it.  As if they know when to join in, seemingly every dog in Eagle River except mine starts to yap and yowl, drowning out the wolves. After a minute, it's silent again.  I close the window, sidestep down the stairs and light a fire, much to the delight of poor, deaf, oblivious old rat terrier, more aware of the comforting promise of a striking match than any link to her ancestry.  Ben stares at the window for a while, then settles in front of the fire, soon whiffling and whimpering in his dream.  Some say that Anchorage is a nice place, not far from Alaska.  This morning it's NOT far.  Not far at all.

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