Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Postcards from the Wild: Skagway, Alaska

A Vast Silence reigned over the Land.  The Land itself was a Desolation, Lifeless without movement, so Lone and Cold that the Spirit of it was not even that of Sadness...It was the Wild. 
                                                     Jack London, White Fang

 Wild sprung up around us as the small white bus
 climbed the mountains away from Skagway. 

Switching toward the water's edge and away,
back and forth we bumped and swerved onward to the last port of the Alaskan Gold Rush, the ghost town of Dyea.

We were not seeking gold in the Klondike,
nor hiking into Canada;

Merely dreaming of  a snowy Alaskan dog sled run complete with Huskies and Malamutes.

Alas, there was no snow, no blue-eyed dogs of old who carried with them bold attitudes and acts of defiance.

The new breed, smaller slender and more eager to  run.

Rains gently fell soaking our smiles of delight as the dogs pulled and tugged at our sleds.

Yapping continually, they seemed to generate even more energy. Winter in Aspen couldn't come soon enough for these sled dogs.

Mud, low clouds, and ferns greeted us, not snow.
That wouldn't fall until September. 

Mushrooms, ferns, and rain forest plants lined the
slippery muddy track, but no one complained.
Mushing through the Tongass Rainforest opened our senses to smell of mold, of moistly cushioned leaves and dying debris. 

Our upwards hike opened vistas of the salt water
inlet that carried thousands of souls on their perilous journey North.

Treacherous terrain grabbed our attention at every step,
and awe of the mighty mountains.

Imagining the cold, shivers ran up our spines when we thought of  White Fang and Buck in Call of the Wild.  
Breathing in the cool air and emptiness of the space, my heart beat for the man, too cold, to empty, To Build a Fire

The warmth of sunshine in Skagway greeted us upon return.

Old codgers in their rocking chairs nodded to the tourist, as they showed off their dogs. 
Tibetan Mastiff

Sipping on a beer and sharing a meal, we reveled in our experiences: I could lick the clouds in my face on the mountainside...Wasn't that merely mud from the dogs?...Can you imagine traveling upstream in the bitter cold current...The desolation and fatigue killed so many...The cold.

At day's end, we marveled at the size of our ship,
and sighed in gratitude for living and traveling in 2016.

Skagway and Dyea map of the Gold Rush
*For more information on the Klondike Gold Rush please click on the link above.  It is one of the best sights I've found.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Postcards from Alaska

So much to sea :-))

Fear and worries consumed my summer thoughts.
My writing mind seemed lost and in disarray.
We boarded the ship and sailed away.

Puget Sound lapped at the bow as we gently 
 sailed away from Seattle.
Hours drifted as we sat on the deck and watched
 the island chains on the distant shores.
No internet, no cell coverage, we were alone
 and one with the waters and the world.

Early the next morning we sat and sipped
Relaxed in the quietness surrounding us.
The captain's voice roused our minds
In the distance a pod of whales surfacing
  brought joys echoed in the voices of hundreds
  of awes and ohs from all over the silent ship. 

Nearly two days later we arrived at Juneau.
A Capitol and port city which can only be reached 
 by boat or plane.
How strange I thought, hailing from  the plains states. 

Their only McDonald's closed the day it opened--
 because, of course, it ran out of food. 
It reopened when more food was available, and we
  continued to laugh at our tour guide's stories. 

Our expedition left us nearly speechless with the distant glacier and magnitude of mountains touching water's edge.
Orcas owned the channel and surfaced as if on the wishes of the tourist.

Sea otters swam alongside, perhaps protected by the boat?
Cries came from the other side of the small boat-- humpbacks spouting.
We stood in awe as they surfaced nearby
Spouting then Plunging.
Plunging deep deep into the waters for the abundant foods,
Preparing for the voyage to the warmer waters. 

We toasted to the crew with an Alaskan brew
And Reindeer hot dogs.
Cold and wet we arrived back at our ship
And relished in the vastness of our voyage.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mindful Art

Jackson Pollock at MOMA

Walking down the sidewalk as a child often tweaked my imagination. One time I saw a bullet holes all across the front a house. I ran home and told my parents that somebody had been shot (The tales of Bonnie and Clyde were rampant in my childhood.) To my dismay that was not the truth. The truth, as my mother pointed out to me when we stood in front of house, was that those places that looked like holes were nothing more than dirt and mud splashed on the house probably by some ornery boys.  How disappointing for me.  In my mind, I had created another picture. When I see a Jackson Pollock canvas I am reminded of those mud splats on the white framed house.

As I matured my eyes still saw things that others might have missed, and I began to think of these pieces as art. When I was a single parent my daughter and I put thousands of miles on our little green Toyota driving from Western Kansas to anywhere. We chased a rainbow one day for miles and miles, just to see where it ended. We drove by an old brick factory in SE Kansas. I pulled off the side of the road and drew the smokestacks, some still tall and stately while others stood broken with bricks askew in nearly every scene.  My plan was to create a macramé hanging of those geometric structures. 

Playfully, I turned the pictures of trees and various structures, upside down to create my macramé hangings and sold them in craft shows. Now, I'm grateful to use my cell phone to take photographs, but I still believe that my most vivid memories will be those that I keep in my mind.

Traveling offers so many unique opportunities to see and imagine art in various forms. While walking the streets of Santa Fe last winter, I discovered many painted doors, and my mind gleefully recalled a trip to Marblehead, Mass that once opened my mind to beauty of brightly painted front doors. Originally, or so the lore of the ocean tells me, when ships wrecked at sea the people living near  the shore would take what items washed onto the beaches, and put them to use in their homes. Whether the story is true or not it not important. What's important is that the people found a way to bring art into their homes, no matter their situation. 

Social Media offers a place for us to share our imaginative adventures.  Susan Dragoo takes professional photos of her hikes and travels, and shares them on Instagram. With her permission I'm posting one of her photos. Looking at the shapes, colors, and textures of her photograph all help to create a story in my imagination and stimulate the "I wonder?" and the "what if?"  Playing with these 

questions creates a colorful playground in my mind. It’s inspiring to me to see the photos and places that other people share.  Without ever leaving my home I’ve hiked with Sherpas, imagined ocean waves lapping at my feet, seen art in hidden places, walked the swampy bayous, visited ice castles, and hiked the hills of Oklahoma.

As I sit here watching leaves fall, listening to Pachelbel, I'm reminded to be quiet in my thoughts, and be Mindful of Art for it will enlighten the day.