December 27th Journal Excerpt:
The fire in front of me is raging. Wet wood has finally steamed its last breath and the flames have taken over. Flickering and flecking sparks up unto the darkness. Ella huffs at every snap. Jolted out of her dreams.
This is a wild, salty space. It has stories I’m sure haven’t been told yet and I’m trying to be patient with myself. To slow down and be intentional and really try to meet people with an open mind. I am, after all the outsider.
The colors are unparalleled. The ocean is the deepest sea greenish blue on stormy days perfectly contrasting against the brilliant turmeric of the dried grasses. Oh how I look forward to seeing them a blaze of green this summer.
"Welcome home" some say. Others ask if it’s beginning to feel like home, and it is. A little. Slowly I can feel the seedlings in my toes starting to take root. I still pinch myself every time I drive from base to town and back again. The view of Barometer Mountain is paralleled only by the view of Hahn’s Peak from the top of Willow Creek pass or the view of the Adirondacks from that one point on Rt 7 South - you know the one? There’s something about seeing a road that seems to disappear at the foot of the mountain. Like a pot of gold the mountain is.
I have a new found appreciation in my ability to move my legs. To walk over brush frozen in what will in warmer weather be a swamp I’m sure, and up and down ridges, slowly exploring my way across the attainable paths on this side of the island. Trodding down to the ocean and crunching across shells while Ella finds something to eat. You’d think we’ve been starving her the way she devours crusty, dead sea bits.
As for the Coast Guard and the town of Kodiak. I’ve never met more reliable people than those who wear blue, and the people of this fishing town. We’ve been helped by people we’ve hardly known to get everything from a bed, to a first set of groceries, to ginger for cookies, to a borrowed car, to a card table and chairs so we don’t have to keep eating on the floor. It’ll likely be another month until our household goods arrive and i’ve never felt as much at ease with so little as I do here. Two plates, two bowls, two mugs (until I broke one) and more treats than Ella could ever need. I see the draw of the simple life so many of my van-dwelling friends live - though I don’t think I'd love it here with the regular sideways blowing wind and rain.
Commonly asked Questions:
1. Daylight. How much do you have? How are you handling the darkness?
When we first got here the sun rose after 10 and set before 4. Now it rises a bit before ten and sets closer to 5. I have a really hard time waking up before 8 am and am learning to be gentle with myself and catch up on all the sleep i’m sure i’m going to miss this summer when it’s light all the time. I also have twinkle lights strung up all over and light candles and use the dark hours as time to catch up on reading and knitting.
2. Have you seen a bear?
Not yet! (Thank goodness) But Ella can definitely smell them.
3. What is life in Alaska like? How are you surviving being so far away?
We live on the island of Kodiak, a really big island that only has roads that run around one corner of it. The mountains are dramatic and there is plenty of hiking and trail systems, but few of them are well marked. The majority of people on the island are either in the Coast Guard or are fishermen. Mail takes a long time to get here and often won’t get delivered for several days in a row when the weather is bad. We are four hours behind the east coast which makes trying to keep up with friends and family a challenge but thankful for internet and snail mail.
4. What are you doing for work?
I am still freelance shooting for many of the same outdoor brands with a stunning new backdrop and hoping to get involved more with the Kodiak Arts Council and perhaps teach some classes this summer.
5. How are you staying motivated in your photography and writing? How do you keep your work fresh?
I’ve been here a month and no two days look exactly the same. I’ve hiked the same mountain four times and depending on the weather its appearance is dramatically different. I find movement really helpful for keeping my creativity flowing and am really lucky my job allows me to travel a lot to keep things fresh. I also am striving to create for myself this season in addition to for my clients. 2017 was really busy and i’m proud of the work i produced but I definitely lagged in the personal passion project department.
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