Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Coming Back to Earth
Later, when I can find the words, I will tell you about what may be the most beautiful four and a half hours I have ever spent in the air. For now, just some pictures: the eastern horizon at about 9:45 at night as we flew over where the cruise ships go; Canada at 10:30 p.m.; the peaks and glaciers we crossed over on our descent to Anchorage. Coming into to Anchorage still feels like coming back to earth after a long exile deep in inner space. I cannot live inside my head in this place. No, that is not true. I do not want to live inside my head here.
Kathleen lives in a splendid house. We are having the good time that only best friends can have: walking the trails, talking about God, culture, books, and the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. It is the perfect prelude to the more sobering work that awaits in the village.
After a late breakfast, we went down the Seward Highway and hiked a trail overlooking the Turnagain Arm. A bald eagle rose in the air not fifty feet in front of us. Later, we encountered a little vole along the way, who tucked herself into the brush and let us contemplate her. See if you can find her – she’s a good camouflager. Magpies chattered by the bridge and the ravens were bothering the swallows – probably going after eggs, but who knows? Later, seeing a commotion by the side of the road, we pulled over and there was the Ram o God himself, holding forth on the rocks. The guide books proclaim that wildlife may be found less than five miles out of town, but this was the first time I encountered it in such profusion.
After an exquisite Thai lunch, we went to Campbell Creek – a huge urban preserve with a science center, an old WWII military airstrip now used by firefighters, miles of sled dog, ski and bicycle trails and a group of grizzly bears who take a swipe at unwary athletes from time to time. In the Creek we saw three huge salmon in their dark red spawning phase. Cottonwoods were showering everything with their puff balls. In Marin County, the cottonwoods pollinate in March. Cottonwoods have one of the largest ranges of any tree, growing all the way from Mexico to just south of the arctic circle. Birches, alders, aspens, wild roses, and daisies added to the green. The fireweed is just beginning. As I finish writing, wild geese are honking. I saw a flock of them at Potter Marsh, glistening under the reflective northern light and I could not help but wonder if they too had come north from Oakland for a summer closer to earth's ancestral home.