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On the Way to Work: Part I

"With me along the strip of Herbage strown, That just divides the desert from the sown. (The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam)"

You leave the house, walk the gravel road to a friend’s house, push aside the alder branches in her backyard that veil the creek.  You step through the high grass that hides the shallow abyss.  The bottom may be muddy or a few inches of clear water. You cross over and the “wilderness is anon.”

Back in the day, I flagged my way across the airport muskegs to the Bypass Road in Petersburg, AK.  (Note to self; flagging a trial with light green tape doesn’t work well in a forest unless the wind is blowing.) The path winds around muskeg holes avoiding soft ground and the treacherous pink moss, marks the hidden creek  under the grass midway, the place where you leap the Bypass Creek and climb the embankment to the road, then follows it up till it drops the muskeg through the forests ; a long and winding road to Hungerford Hill and then follows Mitkof Highway along the bicycle path to work at Scow Bay

In the spring the dark clumps of dark green grass hold promise while the clumps of grey grass are still clinging to the frost.  Muskeg holes hold geometric sheets of fragile ice. You might stumble across a deer or migrating goose trapped by the fog.  On the Bypass Road you’ll see three recent retirees walking their dogs.  The Honey-dos are first to sprout around the holes; little clumps of red insectivores clearing the world of No-see-ums.  Followed by little flowers of all hues with the tall grass rapidly overtopping them.  City trucks start hauling gravel from the pit to the building site bypassing the town.  Fair weather dog walkers appear.  And old lads out for a drive, who makes the city boys come out and unlock the gate on the far end of the Bypass Road.  The deer are all about as are the forest birds .  Never a bear if you are loud.  It should be mentioned that sometimes in the heat of summer the holes dry up and the muskeg crunches under foot.  Nah!  Never happens!

In the fall, all the greenery is spent, leaving only tufts of cotton grass, heavy rain and dispirited walks.  The mournful plaintive calls of Sandy Hill cranes fill the air as they flee Southeast Alaska. 

In the winter you follow the snow mobile tracks across the muskeg   The drifted snow hides the muskeg holes; their ice either collapses beneath your Xtra-Tufs or sends you head over heels when you slip on it.  The crossing at Bypass Creek is buried too deeply in drifts. So you follow the snow mobile tracks until they leap upon the Bypass Road. Which might  be slick and dangerous in the forested part.  The wolves run in the muskegs come winter and your neighbors come to their doors to warn you.

It’s a pretty interesting walk to work.


Author - William Moulton