Potter Marsh is a special place in any season. On Tuesday, October 23, I took a few minutes to explore it in one of its most inviting states.
Temperatures dropped significantly during this current stretch of high pressure weather. It's been enough to allow a few inches of ice to form with a smooth surface perfect for skating. Keep in mind, the season is very young and there could still be many areas of weak ice. But given that the depth of the water is perhaps a couple feet in most places, many skaters were willing to give it a go. It'd be an entirely different, more dangerous scenario on a lake or lagoon right now.
Skaters on Potter looked down the clear ice at the muddy marsh's floor and watched fish scatter beneath their skates Wednesday. Bubbles and plants in seemed to be captured in a state of suspended animation. Afternoon sunlight bounced in all directions on the glassy surface. The few people that were there basked in it, some in only t-shirts. I wished I had brought my skates to join them.
I was surprised to see a bald eagle cruising from cattails to tussocks and taking long rests. Potter Marsh is famous for its birds, but eagles aren't frequently among them. That bird allowed me to approach close enough to make its portrait. I let him be after a short while, wondering if he was healthy and aware of my presence. He was certainly well enough to fly but he was unusually tolerant of people.
As the evening approached and I headed up the road, I thought about the weather. It's been extreme this year, with snow and rain and wind. It'd be easy to complain that the cold had arrived too soon. But days like that on Potter Marsh are a good reminder that clear and crisp are vastly superior to more of the dreary gray that we've seen so often this fall. Related: Take a look through Bob Hallinen's gallery of ice photographs.
Remarkable Places is an occasional series highlighting unique nooks and special spots in our area through photos. Click here to take a look around the Arctic Valley in Autumn. Click here to take a look around the Port of Anchorage Boat Launch.)