Catch Up – Day 15
There are two posts today, so scroll around and check out all the pics and new writing!
8/13 Day 15
As I look around, I see the moraine floor in Technicolor. Glowing greens, deep reds, eggplant purple. Great parachutes of ivory erupt from dryas gone to seed. Lichens swaddle boulders in full spectrum, explosive blooms like fireworks across the granite. This landscape demands a glossary of words unfamiliar to my tongue. Massif, fjord, mudflat, nunatak, ogive. Even familiar words take on enhanced meaning in Alaska: sound, glacier, wilderness, bush.
It is a strange thing to feel nostalgia for a place that is not yours or protective of a watershed you have barely sipped. Strange, but not uncommon. We create space in our lives for such moments. Leave it to the poets for an explanation, as Wordsworth mused on the creative unconscious and decided that it feeds on an “overflow of powerful feeling recollected in tranquility.”
I see the cracked silt flats near the base of the Kennicott-McCarthy Glacier and am reminded of Southeastern Oregon’s Alvord Desert, it’s pale brown scales stretching for twenty miles to the base of the Steens Mountains. I see caribou scat in the Talkeetnas and recall spending two weeks on the Olympic Peninsula where herds of them thundered through the old growth forest like so many droplets of rain. Images layer in mirage, metaphors misalign, the present moment is painted by the past and still, Wordsworth’s maxim holds true: this is the overflow.
Sometimes, I’m afraid of what happens next. It is like the beginning of a great love affair and the jury’s still out on whether this is a fling or the real deal. The creative conscious is feeding and you’ve got to get in there and make the most of it. Some days, that means listening to the voice. Other days, that means pushing it a beat more.
We walk further onto the glacier face where more stories await: each rock a specimen of history, each animal track a line in the plot, each gust of wind the build up to our denouement. This is when the urgency strikes. Elation as high as Fireweed Mountain couples with a sense of grief as low as the bottom of Lake Kennicott. The only way out is to pay witness.
This, I most deeply believe: That as a glacier moves with gravity by its own mass, so we humans carve our paths with equally grandiose impact. We walk the scarred moraine and read its story written in brails of rock and ribbons of water. We walk the scarred moraine until the veil is paper thin, our egos dimmed by the Technicolor of life and this “recollection of tranquility.”