Well, folks, a happier blog this week, perhaps? Something lighter? Something pretty? OK. I wrote this piece during a writing class at UNLV. We were assigned a descriptive essay, and this is what I came up with, a snapshot moment of a quiet morning in Alaska. Sean-Martin took us on a three-day ferry excursion from Billingham, Washington up to where his friends from college still live in Sitka. What a phenomenal experience it was! I went whale watching every day. Geoff, then eleven, stood on the beach and pulled a huge salmon out of the ocean with a five-weight flyrod, making his Fa most proud. Sean-Martin got cornered on a rock by a grizzly bear who just thought Sean-Martin was nice enough to catch his lunch that day. The food was incredible. There's just something about pulling a fish out of the water and putting it in your mouth twenty minutes later. If you've never been to Alaska, you should definitely put it on your list of things to do. To the right is a portion of a video we took, so click away and get a tiny taste of what Alaska offers to sooth the soul. Here's the post for this week...
I couldn’t sleep. I’m not sure why. Southeast Alaska was the most peaceful place I’d ever been in my life. My husband wasn’t having any trouble sleeping. His face was turned toward me, his breathing deep and even in oblivious, uninhibited slumber. Look at his sweet face. He looks good even when he sleeps. How is that possible? I gently lifted his heavy hand from my waist and sneaked out of our bed to take a dip in the natural hot springs.
The air is chilly on Baranof Island, especially in the early morning before the sun has had a chance to take the edge off. I slipped into the bathhouse and out of my robe. The slightest smell of sulfur crinkled my nose as I put my cold toes in the hot water. Not too hot. I put my arms on the edge of the tub and lowered myself in. Goose bumps jumped out on every inch of my skin as I sat down in the warmth of the silky hot spring water. The bathhouse was a simple, wooden structure with huge, open windows on three sides, giving me a perfect, panoramic view of the woods and the bay just beyond.
The beauty of the place, and then the stillness struck me. Southeast Alaska is a rain forest, and the most vibrantly thick, jungle-like greenery I’ve ever seen surrounded me. The ocean lay just a hundred yards ahead, but with no sandy beach to greet it. Instead the water was met with lush trees and long grass, unintimidated by the tides. Like me, they preferred to be as close to the water as possible.
The mountains enjoyed their proximity to the waves as well and towered over the entire area with authority. They boasted the tallest trees that brushed the sky with their tips. A bald eagle, clenching tightly a salmon breakfast for her babies, floated overhead and quietly disappeared beyond their branches. Her family would be eating in private this morning.
The thundering sound of the waterfall called for my attention. Stunningly beautiful, powerful and impressive it was. The mountains relinquished its water to the ocean in a fit, making space for more water that the rain would inevitably bring that day and every day. That rain faithfully began to fall with the precision of music, creating a symphony more beautiful than any earthly composer could create.
A sea otter peeked out of the brush and contemplated the journey down the waterfall to the ocean where his unsuspecting breakfast would surely be. He seemed unsure and waited at his station for a long time. Finally, hunger took over and he cautiously ventured out to slide down the falls. In a second, he was swept away and disappeared underneath the wall of white water. It took a few seconds before he appeared at the bottom, stunned and hurt. He made it to the bank, but his hind leg was broken. He dragged it behind him as he, too, disappeared into the green forest, leaving me to contemplate my own fragility in a world no less civil.
I propped myself up on my knees with my arms over the edge of the tub, leaning as far as I could over the edge. The rain came down harder and I put my hand out of the bathhouse window to catch it. I caught my husband’s eye as he walked up the deck toward the bathhouse, towel in hand. He smiled at me.
“Has anyone seen my wife?” his voice interrupted a moment later. He spoke softly, in perfect meter with the rain.
“I think she’s taking a bath,” I smiled and kept my eyes fixed on the horizon as he set his towel aside and settled down into the tub. His arms came tightly around my waist, and he held me close as he gently kissed my shoulder and then my neck just below my ear.
“Good morning,” he whispered.