Fall has come to Sitka. I arrived in a storm, typical for the season. Holland America canceled the last two cruise ships of the season because winds and seas made it difficult to put a pilot on or take a pilot off a ship. The view from my window was dramatic with fronts moving in and out, sun occasionally breaking through the clouds, rainbows and sunsets that cause Suzi and me to stop what we are going and stare open mouth. And there are flocks of migrating birds.
Sitka in September is paradise for many types of birds. Walking through the national park you hear the raucous, joyful, and sometimes chilling cries of seagulls, eagles and ravens feeding on the decaying carcasses of salmon near the mouths of rivers while the bears feed further upstream away from people. Near the mouth of Indian River gulls sit on the water, each one over “his” fish, guarding it and every once in a while ducking its head into the water to pull off a bit of flesh while other bits of that flesh decay and go to the bottom to provide nourishment for the salmon fry that will later emerge in the constant death and resurrection cycle of nature. The smells at the mouths of the river reflect the “death” part of that cycle. I was in Sitka for a small part of the autumn last year but it has been a long time since I’ve seen this part of the cycle.