I was thinking about birds today. Perhaps because I saw a flock of tiny birds and it was so cold outside that it made me wonder, as I always do, how they manage to survive the cold with their tiny little bodies. Then I thought of struggles. And life in general. And life as it is today. It brought to mind a poem by a woman who spent her life making block prints and poetry. Her name was Gwen Frostic. I don’t even know the name of the poem, but it brought to mind all of the turmoil in our country and the world.
Each swan is always a swan
with all its beauty and grace
and, the blue jay remains a jay
No turtle would try to induce
a frog to live his way . . . .
Perhaps . . .
therein lies the secret
of peaceful coexistence
When I am away from home there are quite a few things I miss. The fresh, salty air of living in a seaside community. The oft-times starkness of the mountains rising out of the sea. Being able to keep track of the traffic at the airport because more often than not, I hear the planes landing and departing; turbo props, not jets. The background noise of gulls, ravens, eagles, geese, oyster catchers, and a dozen species of ducks. The thrum of boat engines leaving the harbor. The wild sound of the Aleutian winds.
At the top of my list is the constant sound of the ocean. My house sits on a natural spit of land fronted by Iliuliuk Bay which is fed by the Bering Sea. Even on a calm day there is the little slap of waves on the beach. As the seas get bigger, the sound of rolling pebbles and rocks being pulled by departing waves is quite satisfying. But the best is when it is really blowing from the north and the waves are pounding the shore like a big bass drum. That is the time when the waves are so constant and so powerful that they shake the shore and the land, the very air that we breath, and my soul.
My friend Zoya, who is a crazed walker and runner, called just as I was getting ready to take my husband some lunch at work. The wind was muffling her voice so I knew she was outside. She says “I am out at Priest Rock (I know she means Little Priest Rock) and there are so many seals sitting on the rocks, about 12 of them. I’ve never seen so many together and they are so big.” I verify that they are seals and not sea lions. “Oh no, they are seals and they are so fat. You should come take some pictures.” (And you have to read this with an Armenian accent, by the way.)
By the time I got out there after going all the way over to airport to drop off lunch, they had decreased in numbers to about 9. But they were so roly poly fat. And all different colors. Just basking away the afternoon in the winter sun; sharing space with Emperor geese who were grazing in the near shore waters.
There is nothing better than being able to drive out Summer Bay road in January. Typically we are unable to drive it past November due to snow and avalanches.
And there is nothing better than living in a place where a spur of the moment phone call from a friend equals basking harbor seals…