I found my Alaskan Journal!
It’s 1988 and I am attending the Sense of Wilderness Writers’ workshop in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park/Preserve east of Anchorage, Alaska. Home of the Kennicott Glacier and the remnants of the Kennicott Copper Mine, the region is an extraordinary wild place – at least it was 35 years ago. I experience an ongoing onslaught of awe-struck moments. Human hubris suddenly seems ludicrous before the enormity of this living landscape. My ego softens. My brain races on circuitous paths while my body just wants to surrender to an endless: OH MY GOD.
I am breathless with amazement.
One morning a conversation with other writers sets loose a swarm of thoughts in my brain like bees buzzing around a honey pot labeled: boundaries. Someone says, “It’s dangerous to identify with nature because we can lose our boundaries. Losing our boundaries means we might go crazy. Or we might appear stupid, actually it’s impossible to identify with nature ANYWAY.”
I am shocked! And then I am horrified when the person continues:
“We need to keep our boundaries distinct so we can remain separate.”
BUT but but – I don’t want to be separate from nature. But I don’t say this out-loud for fear of being laughed at.
However, I see a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary on a table in the work room. I look up the definition of boundary: a fixed limit/ a separating line. Separating line reminds me of how dangerous boundaries are when they separate us from each other. Boundaries in that form allow us to think that dark skinned people are different from
light skinned people, that four legged animals are different from us two legged animals. In each case different from translates as less than and allows us to rape, pillage, violate, dominate, etc. My journal continues with how boundary making, in order to separate, allows rampant cruelty, violence, war and fear mongering.
Remember, I am having these thoughts 35 years ago.
Nothing much has changed.
My thinking won’t quit circling round and round the concept of boundaries: rigid or flexible/ impervious or permeable/ separating or merging/ less than or better than – I have to take a break from people and their endless conjuring of thoughts…
Someone has told me about a pond where Beaver lives. So after dinner, I decide to go look for it. Supposedly, it’s only a mile or so from town. I imagine I can find it myself.
I know it’s dangerous to be out there alone. A moose can “tree” a person! A bear can climb after a person scrambling up a tree!! But I need to take the risk to soothe my soul. I want to push my boundaries that define me as human. Who am I really as an animal among animals in the Alaskan wilderness?
I sling my daypack on my shoulders. I think I’m all set with water bottle, notebook and pen, hanky, binoculars, flashlight, red and silver Swiss army knife, bandaids, bag of nuts and dried apples. (No cell phone because I didn’t have one back then!) I begin walking. The sun, low in the sky, showers the forest of deciduous saplings with benevolent light. I walk and I walk. Trail is narrow, but clearly defined. Easy going. No trail markers though. I have to trust. I walk and I walk – for a long time it seems. I figure I just have to keep walking and eventually I will find the pond. Luckily, for me, that premise is accurate.
Something sparkles to my right. I keep walking and the glinting sparkle enlarges as it keeps pace with me. Could this be it? But I see no path going toward it. I gingerly step off the trail and quietly, slowly make my way toward the sparkling, shimmering, glittering…water. A circular pond of water. Not huge. Maybe half of a football field rounded out. As I emerge from the saplings and see the whole pond, I gasp.
Looking like an island, the vegetation covered dome of Beavers’ lodge rises in the middle.
Thank you, as always, dear one I so look forward to your thoughts I’ve landed in Eugene, Oregon, and I am always missing the forest trails of Bainbridge. Hope all is well in your world. Many blessings. karen
Karen McCarthy Casey KMC Placemaking Practices 206-601-1902 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Tell me a fact and I’ll listen Tell me a truth and I’ll learn Tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever Native American Wisdom
Karen it is a wonder to hear from you. Amazed that you are in Oregon now. But glad you have landed! You might appreciate the Deep Transformation Network
(https://deeptransformation.network/feed) and our huge bioregional group that probably includes Eugene…Called Cascadia.
You are so right – captured my head and soul right off the bat. Let’s schedule a bit of time to reconnect by voice. rushing off just now. Much love,k
This is splendid Deborah. More please! 💃
Sent from my iPhone
I am affirmed by you, Val. thank you. And I might post in only a few days, rather than wait until next week, ’cause I spent time today writing about my experience with Beaver(s) based on my original word clusters/maps of impressions in my journal – Brings the memories back clearly. I am grateful.