Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Alaska: the Tundra Bus, A Big White Mountain, and Other Wonders

That's not a bank of big white clouds in the center--it's a mountain--well, part of a mountain.

Which one is Denali? we asked at our first chance to view big mountain. If it were visible right now, you wouldn't have to ask, was the answer. We finally saw most of it today as the Tundra Bus drove us into the wilderness.

We also saw a grizzly bear and her triplet cubs, 3 or 4 small groups of caribou, a couple small gatherings of dall sheep, a big bull moose with a dewlap the size of a pup tent (good god, animals can be weird,) a rare gyre falcon, a willow ptarmigan, and just for good measure an arctic ground squirrel. The landscape itself was the true wonder. It's vastness defies description. At one point our guide/driver pointed out a large rock in the near distance. If I'd wagered a guess, I would have said it was as tall as a big SUV and easily reached by brisk walk. It was actually 3 stories high and 3 miles away. 

Last year my world was not composed of such vistas. Hospital rooms, the room in the nursing home where the man who loved me spent a few nights before we were able to get him to my house. I stared down at the forms I was filling out, and for some minutes now and then into the eyes of a man who was already beginning to leave this immense and amazing world. 

My heart was stone or dust or perhaps vapor for what seemed like the longest time--like maybe you'd have to spend a day on a bus in driving into the wilderness to catch a glimpse of it. The landscape of my heart has been surprising me lately. There are storybook forests of perfect spruce trees in my heart. There are aspens shaking their greenest of green leaves and rivers made of silver. The blue sky there is a new blue, and I just want to throw my arms around it.

Photo by my friend Ellen--if you want to see more of her great Denali photos, follow her on Instagram:ellenslevy


Elizabeth said...

Well, this is just perfect. How wonderful for you. You look gorgeous!

Ms. Moon said...

Animals CAN be weird. That includes us. And beautiful. And amazing. That includes you.

Not Blank said...

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

Vesuvius At Home said...

I know I'm a bit behind here, but I'm so, so glad you get to have this time. You look happy and free.