Seasonally, the Chignik calendar for spring, summer, winter and fall fits well with the actual dates of winter and summer solstice and spring and autumn equinox. So, while back in my native western Pennsylvania I thought of summertime as starting at the beginning of June, here at The Lake it doesn’t feel like summer until Chinook Salmon begin to enter the river in late June. The main exception to this view of seasonality at the Lake is that our summers are a bit truncated. Autumn comes early.
I made this photograph on June 4, 2019 on a hike to Clarks River – a trek made memorable by our first bear sighting of the year. With the school year having finished weeks ago, we had been going out every day, soaking up as much of our beloved countryside as possible before our scheduled move to Newhalen later in June. Chignik Lake’s school enrollment had dropped below 10 students; the school board had voted to close the school and transfer Barbra. A strange mix of springtime joy and melancholy stirred within our hearts. We did not want to move. But perhaps the understanding that we soon would be leaving created in us a deeper appreciation for the beauty we were surround by.
Willows had just begun to leaf out, and the year’s first flowers were emerging – salmonberries, wild geranium, pink lousewort, delicate purple violets, cinquefoil and lupine. Heavy buds hung from iris and chocolate lily stems. Fireweed was just beginning to push up through the soil in thin red shoots. Our avian spring migrants had returned, and the hike was alive with the songs and calls of swallows, thrushes, sparrows, warblers, yellowlegs, gulls and cranes. Just a few days prior, on May 28, Donny had caught the year’s first Sockeye Salmon in his net. Eagles had begun to post sentinels along the river, watching for more fish to arrive. My memory of the hike is of warmth, but I can see from a photo I took of Barbra that we were still wearing substantial coats and gloves.
While Barbra was photographing alder catkins, (the long, golden-yellow flowers that hang from male trees), I turned my attention to the tightly furled fiddlehead ferns in the above photo. My mind was more on birds than plants, so I had affixed my wildlife lens to my camera and had even attached a teleconverter. But when I looked through the viewfinder, I liked the image so I composed the shot. There’s nothing like a long lens for creating bokeh. (Nikon D850, Nikkor 600 mm + 2.0 TC = 1200 mm, 1/25 at f8, ISO 650)