Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Salmon In The Trees
Documenting the circle of life in Alaska’s Tongass rain forest
They’re fast—much faster than my reflexes. I try again and again. Hours vaporize, like the mist rising into the forest from the spray of the waterfall. But for the salmon, every minute is precious because their time is coming to an end. They have stopped eating. They’re in their final act, spawning, and they won’t stop pushing upstream until they die. Their instinctive drive to pass on their genes is hammered home to me with every leaping fish.
Click, click, click—lots of empty frames. I need to concentrate, but the distractions are many, and wonderful. The harpy screams of ravens emanating from the forest jolt my soul. Bald eagles swoop from treetops to rock tops, eyeballing the feast before them. Bears march into the stream with purpose, causing me to stand at attention. They know I’m here, but they seem focused on the fish at hand, or at paw. With one eye pressed against the viewfinder and one eye open for bears, I attempt to focus on anything, but instead just bask in the present. I’ve never felt more alive. It’s like I’m swirling in the middle of a wild performance with throbbing music, leaping dancers and flashing lights. I have a front-row seat to one of the greatest shows on earth, one that plays out every year all over the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska.
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