Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 5, 8

Been looking at cabins outside the park for my vaguely continuing tenure here. I would shift one roommate to the next in a couple weeks were I to stay in C-Camp, & at this point I well can grasp the dent in my productivity imposed by sharing a small space with another stranger. & besides, these places I am seeing are phenomenal to my eye (though likely horrid to many others); all of them tucked into spruce forest on acreage, maybe next to a beaver bond that freezes over come winter, wood stoves with Toyo backups, dry every one, modest without excuse, simple without pretense. How I want to live at present, quietly, undisturbed, with this landscape sprawling uninterrupted from my window.

& the last couple days a contract drawn between the last dying rage of summer & the stayed & patient hand of autumn, whose fingers have curled to touch off their fires of color already. Still, cloudless, deep azure skies with heavy sun over the blazing leaves. Already the thirties at night, already snow in gossamer corollas around the rings of the peaks, but this last gift of warmth & ineffable beauty. Days like these make me wonder if I can leave Alaska. Wait for winter to see what I will say of it then. Tonight, the auroral forecast is as high as its been since spring.
& here I am describing within what I ought to be enjoying without. To run, then.


An almost ineluctable pull to the outdoors the last week, the weather so finely moderate, so blissfully autumnal, sun enough daily. A nine mile run with 8000 feet of elevation change. A three hour hike off the Triple Lakes trail. Any number of slow meanderings through the blueberry & bearberry bushes. A lovely time to be alive.

I am thinking of the past a great deal lately, no less for the exigencies of the present than for its insistent echo down the corridors of daily life. Names I’ve not recalled in some time, voices I’ve not heard in countless years. The people near to my heart who have muted over time, not through any intentional abnegation, not through any selection in the least, but merely the way that people do, borne along over the years, names culled to the fore in slow revolution, or unspooled into littered letters that again fight into form. Today spoke first with a Swedish exchange student I was friends with in high school & next with a dear friend from my undergraduate days with whom I had sadly lost touch. All of this in the span of four hours. How the past comes crashing back, semblance from slow fracture, the sheen regaining itself over the ruptured watercourse, its reflections pooling piecemeal until the gestalt insinuates itself nearly fully formed, ample intimation. These are the vicissitudes. There was a time I would feel the compulsion towards apology in speaking with one long absent in my life; but then, that absence is to be expected I think. We operate daily with what information we have in front of us, & though the heart’s affections gain stubborn hold, they do not sound a clarion call at matins nor offer themselves in clean litany day to day. It is not from conjuring, either, that those ghosts find flesh, but from a foraging into an openness whereby we allow ourselves to be surprised by their utter familiarity anew. The empathies of an instant.

I have wondered often if I have been a poor friend, too absent & too quiet from my barely articulated distances. My tendency, herein amplified with stunning clarity, of burrowing into presence without due deference to past. But it is respect for those distances that defines friendship to begin, I suppose. Perhaps I tell it such to assuage something in me; I do not know. Only, the past revisits the way a wave does; always separate, always the same, always crushingly profound, & always too quickly withdrawn. & the gaze we send over the sand always a kind of prayer.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

September 4

All's well. Put up new pictures at flickr.com/photos/apinalaska, including the Thorofare Cabin, one of my favorite places in the world entire.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August 31

A year to the day since we emptied the house on Cherokee. A year ago at this hour I was driving west along the interstate for Georgetown, for a month in the mountains, well beyond the hazed brown fog clinging to the huddled buildings in Denver. A year ago, the stopper loosed, the shift from that familiar life to this, its curious facsimile, meandering, wayward, or even-coursed. & this document, now, celebrating, too, its anniversary. Of all of my years perhaps no one more precipitous, no one more daunting in its recollection, more generative in its violent torsions, more fully striated with deep-felt sorrows & swift jubilations. A milestone, now, to sit here & write of it with an unfractured consciousness, a stable enough fulcrum of self to permit of a brief glance behind. No Orphic loss in it anymore.

I think of the logic that compelled us to these farflung points, the compulsion towards self-discovery, towards an earnest evaluation of the first-terms of my own living. That leaning initially towards a thrumming dream, the verdant pastoral of the northwest, that island horseshoed in the tumbling sea. Of Orcas I recall now most clearly its unflagging gift of simple beauty, between us, between ourselves & the land, between ourselves & our burgeoning notions of how we wanted to live. There was dissolution there, perhaps, but wrought of the finest & most insightfully honest circumstances I’ve yet abided. These separate lives a gift given.

That stunned & ghosting drive up the Alcan, fifteen hour days in the truck, the snow mounting, the sense of isolation the more palpable by the second. & then Alaska. That auroral welcome east of Tok in the crisp winter night. Homer. My cabin. My beach along the bay. Good god, a lifetime ago already.

The details I harbor silent within, the ebb & flow of my well-being, the recursions of grief & wonder in balanced presentation. But I am here, in the simple dream of my youth, my heart in me yet, my breath billowing the air my lungs have sought since my earliest remembrance. I am alive to behold it all, to grasp after it or let its beauty settle & lay how it will. No small wonder.