I recently received this email from a friend who's in Belgium right now, dealing with the fall out from the Paris terrorist attacks:
"Thank you so much for your lovely blog post. As I read your exploits, I am sitting in the medieval city of Brussels, just about as far-removed from where you are as one could possibly be. I am ready and willing to do an exchange. Your pictures were gorgeous, and the calm, the quiet, the beauty, and tranquility of nature sounds so wonderful to me now.
...."All is well here, as well as can be expected in the middle of massive terrorists attacks, threats, and an extremely heightened state of security. There are heavily armed soldiers everywhere....It is an eerie feeling here, precisely as it was after 9-11.
...."just a few moments on your beach, or some time gazing off into the distances sounds so lovely and peaceful to me right now."
I want to share my beautiful part of Alaska, through pictures, with those who feel as my friend in Belgium feels when dealing with the world's blind hatred and ugliness.
Below we have a break in the weather to enjoy a day of sunshine. Is there anything more lovely, peaceful and perfect than a day on the water with the sun shining?
Half Moon Bay, about a ten minute walk from my house, when the tide is out. In the summer the tide pool at the center of the photo, is filled with starfish, hermit crabs, bullheads and sea urchins. As a child I could spend hours wading and observing this tidal life. Today, all the young people who visit do exactly the same, making up stories in their minds about the lives of the curious tidal creatures.
It's when I'm in the forest that I get a real sense of how remote we are, knowing that I am completely alone. There is a sense of vastness that can't be grasped, a sense that the wilderness goes on and on with no chance, especially at this time of the year, of bumping into another human being.
Deer. Wolves. Bears. And even a bald eagle whooshing through the forest, breaking branches with its six foot wingspan, frighteningly loud and unexpected in the massive, moss-carpeted silence of the forest.
But no humans.
The only thing to break the deep, meditative silence of the forest, other than the occasionaly blue jay, crow or squirrel, is the drip of rain off the covering canopy, or the rush of a muskeg stream, racing over raised tree roots and under mossy deadfalls in its sinuous tumble toward the sea. I can stand for hours watching the rich, dark water spill and circle every obstacle.
We live right on the Inside Passage and in the summer there is constant water traffic which uses Clarence Strait as a highway, since there are no roads. In the winter things become more quiet, partly because this strait becomes dangerous with unpredictable mood changes and severe storms. But on the nice days, everyone takes advantage and tries to get where they need to go as quickly as possible, like the troller in this photo. We hear the boats rumbling past in the night, and sometimes their halogen mastlights will fill our small inlet with a brilliant, false sunshine that travels quickly over the forest, picking out the branches in razor sharp detail before disappearing as quickly as it came.
The sunsets here, filling the vaulting sky and reflecting in the water, are always spectacular, but I have a special fondness for the quieter, subtler ones that infuse our overcast evenings. There is a sense of gentleness and comfort, as if the earth is swaddled in warm blankets, and nothing evil can penetrate.
I am forever grateful that I live here,
"....far from where people reside as aliens, places forgotten, far from the foot...." --Job 28:4
Tara Neilson (ADOW)