A blog by Bill Hess

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« Wasilla at 83 degrees, as seen from the car: a teen and his bikini fantasy; the real thing; jet skis and mountains; train, banana split and more | Main | I receive instructions from a duck; birch buds about to leaf; a variety of very young people; Scot's funeral service announced »

First hot Saturday of the year - I just have to blog it: return of the French visitors; Alaska State Trooper in action; Wild Child replaces duck in Little Lake - plus 5000 more stories, condensed

Remember the duck that shouted advice to me from Little Lake in my last post? This evening, as I was pedaling my bike back home down Seldon after a decent ride, I heard what sounded like a train horn blow and it sounded like it was only about 300 yards away. I was quite curious, as the railroad tracks are almost two-and-a-half miles from where I was. As I neared the corner of Seldon and Wards, I heard the accelerating roar of what sounded like a boat engine, complete with the sound of churning water, but I knew this could not be.

There are no navigable bodies of water in this neighborhood - except maybe for navigation by canoe.

Then I reached the corner and saw The Wild Child, churning circles as it did laps around Little Lake. Then he blew his horn. It sounded like a train. Keep in mind I had a 24-105 mm lens on my full frame 5D MIII. This was shot at the 24 mm end, making it wide angle, so it makes Little Lake look bigger than it actually is.

I shot this from the other end of the lens - the 105 MM. Being a small telephoto, it compresses the scene a bit, making Little Lake, which is really not a lake at all but a tiny pond, look a little smaller than it actually is - but not much. Any good Little Leaguer could throw a baseball well into the bushes on the other side.

The mallard drake was gone. I wasn't too terribly worried about it, because it had been there all alone with no female to set up house with and probably flew off long ago. When this neighborhood was a much wilder place than it is now, every summer there would be a number of ducks that would make their home here. It was such a great joy to watch them and their little ducklings circle about the pond, much as The Wild Child does here.

No ducks have made any kind of sustained effort to raise a family here in many a year now, well over a decade. Maybe two decades. I doubt any ever will again.

Truth is, even back then, the duck families seldom, if ever, actually made it through the summer. Invariably, at some point, someone's loose dog would discover them, jump in, dog paddle after and that it would be it for the duck family.

Half of this pond resides on the property of the Wild Child's owners. They are good people. Time and human influx just changes everything. We, who love Alaska, diminish this most magical and wonderful place a bit more and more, every year. I do include myself. Regular readers are familiar with the many moose who wander into our yard.

Once, they dined right here, in this very spot where I sit typing at my computer. Wolves probably trotted right through here. I suspect at least one stopped just a foot away from where I now sit, lifted his leg and pissed on a tree that stood right where my tropical fish now swim about in my 90 gallon aquarium.

Today was the first hot Saturday of the year. I measured 69 degrees, but I kind of think it might have broken 70 (21 C). Last Saturday, the ground was covered in snow. That's why I'm blogging, even though it's not Wednesday. I cannot ignore the first hot Saturday of the year. Friday was pretty hot too - I measured 68 degrees.

That was in the evening, when I was coming home from my bike ride. In the morning, Zoé the writer and Victor the artist, both from France, stopped by again. They are on their way home after spending three months in the Arctic. It was a challenge but they loved it and particularly fell in love with Tikigaq - Point Hope, where they hung out with some friends of mine. They want to come back and stay there for a year. They had some great adventures and shared some great stories with Margie and me. In time, they will recount their adventures and what they learned in book form. 

After we visited for a couple of hours, Margie and I took them to Abby's for lunch. As we were leaving, Abby's granddaughter Trinity struck up a conversation with us.

As Victor and Zoé drove off in the direction of Talkeetna, Margie and I headed down Seldon towards home. Ahead of us, an Alaska State Trooper had just pulled over a man in a pickup truck.

Here is the man in the pickup truck waiting for the trooper as we pass by...

Here is the Alaska State Trooper walking to greet the man in the pickup truck as we pass by...








Soon we were back home. Jimmy had been frantically anxious to go outside ever since Victor and Zoé had arrived. He can only go out if I go with him.

So all three of us went out. We had a good time out there, but I am spending too much time on this post and will not attempt to recount our conversations and activities. 

Jimmy, of course, was brilliant in everything he said and did.

At 4:00, I went elsewhere for coffee. Metro Cafe was closed for Memorial Day weekend. They open again Tuesday morning and then they will close at 12:30 in honor of Scot, who will be buried that afternoon. I bought two iced Americanos and brought one home for Margie.

She did not come because she wanted to hang out in the yard.

No matter how hot the day, around here winter is never far away. At most, it waits just around the corner.

On the corner by the Post Office, someone had suffered a fender-bender. A man with a broom and shovel cleaned up broken glass and plastic.

Then in the evening I took my bike ride. Here I am, stopped on the bridge that crosses the Little Susitna River. I went about ten miles. What with the affliction I still must bear from this damned gigantic belly hernia my surgeon gave me, I am in terrible shape and thought about only going three miles, which is pretty much what I have been biking every day, but I want to take a few reasonably long rides before the summer ends, so I have to start pushing myself a bit.

I did and it was good.

Somewhere between 9 and 10 pm, I decided I needed a chocolate dipped ice cream cone. Margie had fallen ill and did not want to come. So here I am, driving alone to get an ice cream cone.

And here's the ice cream cone, shot just before I left the Dairy Queen parking lot. The ice cream was melting faster than I could consume it.

Oh, damn. It dawns on me. I know what some are going to think when they see this picture.

Stop it! Stop it right now!

And here I am, nearing home, my ice cream cone in my belly. Just two days ago, driving down this same stretch of road, there was not enough green in the deciduous trees for the eye to detect.

Look at it now.

This from earlier, when Margie, Jim and I were lazing about in the back yard, talking, visiting, having a truly wonderful time of a nature we had not experienced for many months. Our conversation wandered into the many books I am working on, along with the many other books that wait for me to begin work on.

I don't like to believe it, but I am on the cusp of growing old. I am beginning to wonder if I am going to have time to get all these books done. So I told Margie that, not counting what I am being paid to do, which must come before all, and not counting the Thunder Paws book which I recently completed and now is on hold until I can find the time to figure out how to make a good iPad book out of it, perhaps I should just do one, big, illustrated memoir and sum up all I have seen and experienced from my infancy to the present.

Yes, yes, I do hold onto certain memories from infancy.

Maybe I should do that book, so I at least make note of everything. Then, after I finish, I could start taking pieces from that book and enlarge them into the books each piece deserves to be. Maybe I would never finish them all, but at least the whole story would be outlined.

So, as we sat there, I let my mind wander through all I have seen and experienced from infancy to the present and as I did, my eyes went to these trees. I thought, "I will take a picture of those trees and I will place it as the very last picture in the big, all-encompassing, memoir."

In truth, its not a very good picture and I probably won't use it in the book at all, but earlier today I had kind of obligated myself to take a picture of trees and to post it on this blog, so here it is.

Reader Comments (4)

I'm impressed that your ice cream broke your windshield.

May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterViva

Hi Bill, Thank you so much for your precious blog. Today I have seen the most beautiful shots you have taken. I am closer now to my arrival in my Northern Home. The picture you have here of Trinity is just wonderful. I so miss Alaska. I will be there on the 7th. June. It will be nice to see you and Margie again.

May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJo-Ann

Did the duck tell you to get an ice cream cone? Even if he seems to be gone, I suspect he is still in communication with you.

May 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwendy

Being of Swedish descent, when I see that many birch trees, all I really see in my mind's eye are birch bark handcrafts. So many beautiful things were made by both Native Americans and the Swedes (along with many other nationalities)!

So nice that you have spring there -- we went from winter to summer overnight here in Minnesota.

May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

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