June 9th: I learn about the name "Denali"

It's the afternoon of another beautiful day in Alaska, and I'm sitting on my front porch, eating a bowl of popcorn. As I'm enjoying the wonderful view of the forest, I catch a glimpse of my friend Squirrel jumping from one tree to another. Finally he jumps from a tree in the driveway onto the porch railing, then scampers up to the area where I'm sitting. It's funny, because I've never heard the pitter-patter of a squirrel's feet before.

"Good afternoon, Squirrel", I say.

"Hi Al", he says. "Did you get to see Denali yesterday?"

"Yes, I did. I saw the whole mountain range, and it is enormous", I said. "And I have a question for you. Why do you keep calling the mountain 'Denali' instead of 'McKinley'?"

"Because that's what us native Alaskan's call it. It means 'The High One'."

"Okay then, I will call it Denali, too."

"Actually, there are many different native tribes here, and they all call it by different names. For instance, the people south of the mountain call it Dghelay Ka’a, while the Aleuts called it Traleika. But in the end, it's just a very large mountain."

I've only been with Squirrel a few times now, and I've noticed that he's always anxiously looking around, like someone or something is chasing him. But this time, as he talks, I see him looking mostly at my bowl of popcorn. "Would you like some?", I ask.

"It sure smells good", Squirrel says, smiling widely.

"Here you go, lightly salted, lightly buttered", I say, as I hand him one piece ... and then another, and another.

I didn't know how many pieces of popcorn a squirrel can eat at one time, but apparently they can put as many as eight pieces in their mouth. Squirrel's cheeks are very full and sticking out to the sides. His mouth is so full he says something like "Mrph moo", then runs down the railing and back out into the forest.