Sitka Day 16: Birthday Morning Walk

Friday morning, I woke early to blue-infused blackness–dawn in Sitka. Ravens called, snow unfurled across the campus walkways like a blanket, and I breathed deeply strolling down to the docks. Within an hour, the sky was lit from end to end, a crystal clear day with dry air that made the world feel cold enough to crack. This is my favorite kind of winter weather and, on my birthday, it felt like a gift.

I walked and walked, snow squeaking beneath my boots. By the time I reached the Adak (a ninety-one-foot tugboat), I was filled with gratitude for the freedom to write, the determination to shape my life to my highest aspirations, and the company of fellow artists to share in the journey. For several days, writers Jenny Pritchett and Brendan Isaac Jones and myself have hunkered down with manuscripts in hand and workshopped their two novels and my collection of short stories, happily floating at the duck on Eliason Harbor.

Even tied to the dock, being on the boat felt like a borderland–as if everything else could wait while we three sat and did the good work of arranging words. Long views and big windows, the gentle lapping of the waves (not always the case), the coming and going of fellow boat owners–all of it compressed time into a lovely immersion. I loved being on the boat, but more than anything it made me want to move on the water–to leave even more of myself behind. The metaphor of writing on a boat is not lost on me. Revision requires casting out into the black, trusting something will be on the end of your line at the end of the day. It requires letting loose those knots that inhibit.

On my birthday, I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting reminder. Add good company, stars later that evening, sending off of 4′ candle trance lanterns high into the sky (for birthday wishes), and suffice it to say it seems like 33 could be nothing but a banner year. Thanks, Sitka, for making the moment possible.

(Boat photos to be posted in the near future…The pic at right is of me lighting my birthday trance lantern, making a wish. I didn’t make my go-to wish that I always wish for. Not this time. This birthday wish was Alaska born, thank you very much. My, what a great place to be.)

  • Rocky Cole

    Happy birthday, Katey. A lovely post. Thank you for sharing the images and words today. Your birthday is the same day as my son's.

    May this year bring you everything you want and deserve. ~Rocky

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