First, cut a willow branch and peel the bark.
Then cut the branch into lengths that fit inside your tin can. The can needs to be covered tightly with tin foil, with holes poked in the top with a toothpick. Next, set the can on the edge of a fire that is surrounded by your favorite people.
Jason organized our trip to Right Beach and took us back to this place he visited many years ago. It was different, of course, this summer in the midst of a pandemic. A trip like this is different in that the air is fresher, the colors more vibrant, the fire less smoky, the bugs less buzzing, the time with friends more precious in the shadow of this serious year.
This trip is something that went perfectly right this year. Thank you to Jason, Elena, Laura, and Shane for a great memory. Cheers to the next adventure!
The plane flew over Eagle River on the way out of town. It's easy to forget sometimes that just moments away from where I live is a dramatic wildness. The mountain ranges go on and on - dramatic and craggy things that slope down into bowls of gathered wind-swept snow that are so untouched that I become aware of my inhale. On the flight down I sat next to the man who built the house next door to us. I love our little town.
I decided to hang out in downtown Phoenix for two nights before heading to hang with my parents.
I like how this year has started out. I am more at ease, less worried than I have been in the past. I'm excited for what lies ahead and grateful to be able to take a trip like this - hotel, museum, rental car, botanical garden, family, food. I have nowhere to be and just those to do for the next week.
At the Songbird Coffee & Tea, the morning is buzzing with bird song, construction noise, and the quiet affirmations of two people in love sitting a few seats away. This old brick and wood house has a door that yawns the sound of nostalgia. Who lived here in 1904 when the sawdust was swept from the floors of this new home? What dreams were told to these walls, I wonder. What if our house will be a groovy coffee shop in 2118? I hope dogs are allowed to sit with you in the dirt yard under a tree. It's weird to think that our house, so contemporary, so adored - might one day be a place where strangers drag their feet across the floors to the back room where a cashier makes coffee and tea and keeps cold cream in a short refrigerator where the dresser once stood.
A gust of traffic flows by. The morning air is just a cool enough that I urge the sun to hurry its bend around the 8 story apartment building across the street - where a construction crane looms over, making a promise that the rising sun will shine through these old glass windows for the last time here soon.
I made sure to get to the Desert Botanical Garden before sunset. The golden light was a dream and maybe it was the Ansel Adam’s exhibit from the museum earlier, but I loved the drama of the monochromatic treatment of some of these shots:
Ten Lines for as Many Years
For tradition and for the yellow leaves, I slipped into white
lace and you dressed in a suit, both we would never
wear again. It was just you and me standing amongst the
people who made us. My dad and I walked down a gravel
path to a dock, to you, to our families under a blue September sky.
Bud read the vows and we repeated, sending them into
the future as unwrapped hope. Since then, we've lightened
as our roots interlace around each other to spread and stabilize.
Every once in a while I find myself laughing a little longer and a little
harder, so I can keep a moment fluid before it solidifies into memory.
We walked as much as we could. At one point we thought we could make it to the Locks, but 5 miles is so much longer when you're in the city.
Cody and I embarked on our fifth hike of the summer, which took us past blue glaciers, fields of fireweed, and tired tourists. The ascent to an incredible view is worth the 4,000 foot and 9.7 mile round-trip hike. We were surprised by how heavily trafficked the trail was, and we will remember to start a little later in the day next time. To get a reprieve from fellow travelers, we stopped at a watering hole for about an hour. We soaked our feet in the cool snow melt and chatted with a few visitors from London, mainland China, and California.
The moonscape left behind by the retreating glacier is a monochromatic desert with percussive beats of extroverted greens, shy yellows, and reaching pinks.
And then there is this...
It stopped me. It awed me.
The way the mountains peak above
the ancient ice made me think
about time and the slow aching
expanse of it as it folds
onto itself and stretches
into ripened wrinkles.
It made me. It wrinkled me.
The wrinkles of a glacier,
like an elephant, like an autumn leaf,
like dimpled flesh, like my face in
the coming years. I will feel
contentment and belonging
in those creases to come.
The climb is pleasantly gradual, both up and down. And the long path across falling water and past sitting mountain goats on the way to a majestic glacier makes it one of the best hikes within an hour of Anchorage.
And the views...
If there is a chance to dip my toes in water or splash my face with the refreshment of a rushing stream, it can't be avoided.
My father-in-law is a retired Architect turned luthier. Over the last four years I have honed my own artistic eye as a result of having access to Matt’s workbench and technical journey. It has been an honor to capture photos of this process. This summer, I am taking Advanced Digital Photography through UAF with Charles Mason to help me sort through and narrate this project. Here is where I am at so far...
Over the last few years my creativity has tugged me into the world of painting. I first became smitten with acrylics and worked on canvas for about a year. Then last fall I decided to pursue an art degree and took my first semester-long watercolor class. Now I have finished my second semester. I'm witness to poetry, sculpture, and painting braiding an interesting story. Next, I'm taking some digital photography classes. Ideas are in process here.
“A painting is never finished -
it simply stops in interesting places.”
― Paul Gardner
From the iconic architecture to a 19th century baseball team
pitching ball in Lincoln park, the city’s confidence in itself is infatuating.
The art was my interest. Wolfgang Butress’ sculpture Lucent is 14 feet in diameter and represents the 3,106 easily visible stars from the Northern Hemisphere. The half-sphere is reflected between water and mirror-polished steel.
So on our last day, smitten with a city so alive, I sat in Mariano Plaza and painted for hours as Adam slept on the 5th floor of a stylish hotel and the sun wrapped around the city like a blanket nestling me with a knowing that we will be back so many more times.
Jessie, Mary Ann, and I took on this trail one foot after the other. We moved slow and I experienced the terrain and the purpose of hiking in a different way. At times, I focused on each step, heel to toe - just as I learned from Patty at Ageya in Homer.
On the last day of school, rig packed, I was out of town on the way to Homer. I took my time on the drive, and I grabbed some meat and cheese from Fromagio's to share and a sandwich for the road.
Homer is often a destination of creativity, restoration, and indulgence for me. I eat out too much and find some mode of expression. In the past its been photography and writing. More recently, it is painting, sketching, and more writing.
It has been a few years since we celebrated my favorite holiday with my parents. It was so great to have this time with my brother, Courtney, and Scarlett too!
Of course, we spent some good times in the kitchen. For the first time, I made Adam's favorite pecan pie. I got the recipe from Kathy and it was a huge hit. I will be making this pie every year from now on. Aaron made stuffed mushrooms, Courtney whipped up some yams, Mom had the turkey puffs done early in the day, and Dad fried up the best turkey. It was all so delicious.
When we weren't hanging at home, we were on the golf course. We got five rounds in, in as many days. The best was at Emerald Canyon.
The west course was more fun, for us. It was an easy breezy place to show up and get an early round of golf in. While the east course has some great views of the city and lake, the west course is more interesting. These fairways are as narrow as Emerald Canyon, but the walls are made up of houses, yikes. We fared well.
Memories of desert sunsets will continue to warm my bones despite the deep, dark December and January that await us. I'll smile when I think back to the warm weather, big family hugs, and all the good times we had.
There is public art, history, architecture, and (of course) the arch. The arch is a wild expression of engineering and design. It was finished in 1965, the year my dad was born, and the sardine can that elevated me 630 feet evoked the space age and the promise of that time.
After ascending Matanuska I wondered where the name came from. The answer is simple and complicated. Pete LaFrance offers some beautiful insight.
We started out a little after 8am. The temperature was forecasted to be abnormally hot for this first Saturday in August.
From far away, everything is glazed with whimsy and ease.
Pebbles to rocks, rocks to boulders,
which an ancient Titan, surely, piled one on another to mold
the slanted peak.
Mytikas is the tallest peak in Greece.
Ch'atanhtnu was the Dena'ina's name for Matanuska,
"the River from Which Trail Comes Out."
Who decides what is remembered?