Friday, September 26, 2014

"how you spend your days is how you spend your life." -annie dillard

Here, finally, are some photos of the house where I am staying.

This is a view of the mountains from the harbor. These mountains are all part of Baranof Island. Sitka is on the western side of Baranof, towards the north. The bays wrap around so that there are mountains like this that don't quite seem like part of the same island--but they are.

A PSA, in case anyone wondered about whether or not kids float. This is taken from above the same harbor as the last picture.

I took a walk a few days ago and this was one of the many trees I encountered. It's common to see root systems way above ground like this. I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer about why that is so!

This is Indian River, the river I was walking alongside on my walk.

See the fish? These are salmon swimming up the river, getting ready to spawn. There are thousands and thousands of salmon all doing this right now. As you probably already know, salmon are in the process of dying while they're in the process of spawning. Their skin has turned black and is starting to fall off, even as they look for somewhere to lay their eggs (or, for males, a female's eggs to fertilize). So the rivers are full of spawning fish and they're also full of dead fish. There are dead salmon layered on the river banks, at the bottoms of the river, into the forests where mammals and birds have pulled the fish to eat them, and even hanging from the trees where birds have carried them to feast on. The smell is....well, it's exactly what you would expect from a place caked with thousands upon thousands of dead fish.

More spawning salmon, if you look closely.

In the lower left of this photo you can see a salmon skeleton. Just right here along the path where I was walking. This is a ways into the forest, too--several miles from the ocean. But, did you know that in the interior of Alaska salmon swim for hundreds of miles into the rivers to spawn? That is crazy, comrades. Certifiably crazy.

Here's the muskeg that I walked to. I could've walked miles more but my back has been hurting so I turned back.

I didn't think about how dark it was until I looked at my pictures! This is another photo of the muskeg (which is a bog). Days here are often dark, and as winter comes on they'll get darker.

A tree in the muskeg. This particular kind of moss hangs from the muskeg trees making it all look ghostlike.

This picture is from this past Sunday. I drove 7 1/2 miles north of town, and then the road ended. You can drive a little further on the road that goes south, but not much. And that's it, the only two roads that go out of town! They just, simply, end.

Here's the beginning of my walk that day--on Sunday--to Mosquito Cove.

And this is from this morning. I walked a couple hundred feet from the house and took this photo. Trying to show how the mountains really do go right into the town. There were some people visiting this week (visiting the Island Institute) from Juneau and Anchorage, folks who've traveled all around Alaska, and they said that Sitka really is especially beautiful, even as Alaska goes.

And this is the view from the street where I'm saying. I showed you a view from this street facing the other direction--into the forest. This view is facing the water and the mountains of Baranof on the other side of the water.


  1. very beautiful my friend; that house looks very orderly, peaceful, with good light and space. God be with you.

  2. Orderly and peaceful are two perfect words to describe this house! I have never been in such an orderly place!!!



  3. So beautiful!!!! I love how gorgeous your town is. And that room with all the books...!!!!

  4. Kids don't float? What about if you poked holes in them? Then would they float?

  5. Good point, Lady Snark. I'll call the Coast Guard and point that out to them.

    Mel: yep, the room with the books is awesome. I sit in it and read books!!

  6. I like the End road sign. Maybe when you see the road in person, it makes sense why it goes that particular distance and then ends, but from here, it seems arbitrary. "Well, gang, should we go ahead and shut down the pavers?" "But we're all full of vinegar, Boss! Can't we go another fifty or a hundred yards?" [in 1950's lingo]

  7. That's funny, Lor. Actually, what's so great about seeing it in person is that it ends right at the base of a mountain. So it's more like the road workers were hard at work, paving away, and then all the sudden they looked up and saw a mountain a few feet in front of them, looked at each other and said, "Well, hunh. Guess this is it, eh Boss?" And the Boss scratched his head and said, "Well. Yep. I reckon." And they put up the "End" sign and that was what.

  8. What a wonderful reading room.