Pray

And we pray, not for new
earth or heaven, but to be quiet
in heart, and in eye clear.
What we need is here.

Wendell Berry

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Alaskan Sunset

Anchorage

Only one in eight tourists gets this view of Mt. Foraker and Denali, apparently. I was super-duper lucky, as I got to see them every day! Also super-duper lucky to witness the mesmerizing magic of the aurora borealis after sunset. How I love this beautiful world…

Moose!

The Last Frontier. Land of the Midnight Sun and Dr. Seuss-like flowers. Alaska! Did you see the glacier in my last post? Giant and gorgeous, let me tell you. The mantra for the entire state, I think.

I went to cuddle and bounce a sweet baby boy; jump and run and play with a delightful three-year-old; and while the hours with fantastically neat adult persons. It’s Solveig and Family, with the fine bonus of traveling to Alaska to get the job done. What a wonderfully jam-packed and magical time, truly. I saw mountains, so many mountains, verdant and snow capped; glaciers, ice, changing tides, mystical boreal forests, and practically needed to wire my jaw to keep it from dropping at the stunning beauty of it all. We visited the state fair. I ate wild salmon and reindeer, syrup and tea made from birch trees, jams and jellies from salmon berries, fir tips, and Sitka roses.

And the baby boy is perfect – cuddly and healthy, and, probably goes without saying, adorable. Luna – do you remember Luna? – is a scrapper, a full belly laugher, and light up the room smiler. She calls me “Your Friend.” “Will Your Friend jump on the trampoline?” “Will Your Friend play with me?” “When can your friend push me on the swings?” “Can Your Friend read me a story?” “Where is Your Friend?” “WHY does Your Friend live so far away?!!”

Beautiful Mama. Proud, too.

Artist:

John Grade – “Floats”

At the Anchorage Museum now, one of the most unique I have ever visited, as the collection and the various exhibits are very specific to the far North (Anchorage lies at 61 degrees). There is art (and sound) that explores the existence of polar bears, the isolated life of the Arctic, as well as indigenous works. They are beautiful, often stark, and sometimes haunting. They also have places for kids (and, ahem, their adult companions) to learn about science by blowing bubbles, jumping, climbing, even making earthquakes!

The highway to Seward and a stroll along the coastal trail, which hugs the Cook Inlet. If I had one regret on this trip, it would be that I left my long lens and tripod at home. My eyes devoured what my camera could not. Next year!! The hubster and I will return together and make up for it.

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On plane journeys, the hum of engines and sight of the world from on high sparks a fire of words. I flip the magazine page, and it reads “journal.” So, this is what I write:

I am soaring above the Pacific Northwest and remembering, a cascade of images and thoughts at once. Driving winding back roads, shady with giant Doug Firs (and that place, too, many a Saturday afternoon lunch, talking Dolly Parton with our favorite server, eating a grilled cheese) before rounding a bend to a picture perfect view of some gorgeous volcano. Hood. St. Helen’s. Rainier. Adams. Jefferson. All glorious and snow capped.

The dozen times we drove to Seattle, through drizzle and storms, every season of the year, to arrive to sunshine. Every single time. The rain only commencing on the drive home. Seattle! The most beautiful city IN THE WORLD. The hills, towering trees, the sweep of Elliott Bay, with the Olympics beyond and Rainier peering over my shoulder.

And our trips further north, to Bellingham and Everett, the San Juans, our bit of solace on THE September 11th. A cabin on Orcas Island, at the end of the road and edge of the sea. No television. No newspapers. No images of horror and terror. Late afternoons, we listened, rapt, to accounts of bravery and loss. So very much of each.

The clouds have swallowed the landscape whole, light bouncing heavenward, shining on the memory of my mind’s eye. We took the ferry from Orcas and drove south on the Olympic Peninsula from Port Townsend, town of wooden boats, entering a place primordial. Tide pools, trees dripping, water and moss, winding among the low slung clouds, every bit a dream. Our shared dream.

Flying over the ocean now, conjuring our days at the coast. The time we walked, too late from Cannon Beach to our rented room, the tide rising higher and higher, engulfing the shore and forcing us upward, through clawing brambles and brush and near ninety degree angles of rock and cliff. Two jack-in-the-boxes popping out on the roadway in near darkness, scratched and scraped and bruised, but giggling still, just after night fall.

Mornings in Bend, the scent of juniper and wild chatter of robins gorging on their berries. Days on the Metolius, our wee cabin succumbing to the shifting river, burgers and marshmallows roasting on the barbecue. South to Breitenbush and Summer Lake to take to the waters at the hot springs. Quiet beautiful skies, roads less traveled.

The golden light gleams – a million pennies dancing on the water. Portland, the best and longest bit of our shared history. Our home. The half-ass house we called it. Half covered in siding. Half the yard an absolute shambles of three foot weeds. Half the switch plates missing their screws. Half the electrical box miraculously intact after being improperly wired. We coaxed out the best of it – blood, sweat, and tears.

A quick jaunt to Mt. Tabor, Hawthorne unspooling to the Bagdad and on down to the river, the West Hills and Forest Park, luxuriating in verdant shade on the hottest of days. We walked, drove, and biked nearly every street and boulevard, so many treasured places and favorite spaces, and meals, the very best of our lives! I am wishing, right this minute, for a coctel de pulpo at Taqueria Nueve.

And friends! We made the best. Popping across the street, down the block, zooting around town, to share stories, sweets, and home made treats. A little whiskey, a bit of beer, a glass of champagne. Laughing at the madness of IKEA and batshit crazy neighbors. Watching tiny children grow into teens, adults, beautiful people. Enjoying fondue on Christmas Eve. Sitting, late into the night, on a patio plucked from a Hawaiian dream, inhaling the sweet scent of gardenia.

And to the future, lamenting, tears streaming, the one day, hopefully far, far away, after everyone I love has passed on to the next life, how it will ALL be turned to soup.

 

Three

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

Lao Tzu

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