Storyknife #4: What A Dream

img_8238She’d already given me a brief tour of Frederica cabin. Brief because the cabin is perfectly sized small. Brief because I sensed she did not want to intrude on what would be my writing space and home for the next month. Brief because I sensed something else going on. As she walked out the door and down the few steps to the gravel drive, author Dana Stabenow paused and said to me, “You’re a dream come true.”

Then, quickly, she turned and walked off, head down as if bracing for a stiff wind or readying for an overhead wave about to collide with the fishing boat on which she’d grown up. Or, maybe, simply to hide a big grin on her face.

Across the Cook Inlet, Mts. Douglas, Augustine, Iliamna, and Redoubt radiated in the dwindling Fall light. Read more

Storyknife #3: Sightings

I’m not going to lie. The days here in Alaska during my 30-day writing residency run together. There are days when I sit at my writing desk, glancing up between bouts of laying down paragraphs, barely noting the drying fireweed of fall in the field beyond my window, barely remembering there are volcanoes across the Cook Inlet. Only to be greeted by a radiant view of Iliamna breaking through the clouds. Today, it was the merest hint of a rainbow arcing over Mt. Augustine that caught my surprise. (Well, where the volcanic island is supposed to be, but at 60-some miles distant, it’s socked in today.) Sometimes, it’s the striated colors of clouds stretched and loosely twisted like taffy at sunset that make me grab my camera. These things catch my notice. But they don’t all stick with me. (That first night’s sunset does, because it turned out to be an ephemeral and welcoming one. No sunset has touched it since.) Read more

Storyknife #2 Halfway There

It’s a rare day when the phone call comes. The phone call. The one that marks a before and after. When the phone rang that day for me, I remember glancing at my phone and seeing a number I didn’t recognize and “Alaska” as the caller’s location. Immediately, names started cycling through my head. Who did I know in Alaska at the moment? There was Elise. And Elisa. Possibly Jonathan. Maybe Brenda. Megan and Darren. Many of the field biologists with whom I’ve helped or written about spend summer field seasons in Alaska. Read more

Storyknife #1: Arriving Alaska

Old guy. Cane. Black fleece vest. Black trucker’s cap. Black slacks. Black leather orthotic sneakers. He veers my way. I think he’s going to ask for help. Directions somewhere. How to get to baggage claim, maybe. His cane click clacks with every step.

“I don’t know,” he says when he gets a few feet away from me. He seems nice enough, I think. I’d be happy to help him.

He doesn’t miss a stride. “Your sled dog doesn’t look too spry.” Read more