I’ve had an affinity for nature of the north ever since I was a child. It was in my blood somehow, a pulsating presence and connection with whales, seals, and wolves; I yearned for the cold. By age 6, I was carefully constructing “pop up” books of humpback whales, complete with facts and the most recent calls-to-action related to their conservation and protection that I had read at the local library. I must have been such a curious sight to many. A Cincinnati girl pretending to be a wolf running freely in her back yard, telling everyone how to conserve creatures of the Arctic seas, and waiting patiently, with intense eagerness, all year for the first snow fall.
This connection I had with creatures of the cold was unexplainable. Creatures I had never seen and yet could somehow I could always remember with all of my senses touching the bumpy yet smooth skin of a giant humpback whale or running my fingers through the indescribably thick fur coat of an Arctic wolf. It was as if my soul already knew these things. And now, as I sit on the snow covered beach of Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska, it’s like my inner child finally came home. It’s like the place I never saw but always remembered, the place I always knew with the deepest sense of my being.
A quant, quiet town in the winter Seward is, with more closed signs than open ones. Seward’s straight streets and looming western-themed, saloon-style buildings are reminiscent of the gold rush days when towns like Seward first sprung up on nugget laden hopes of frontiers-men who had traveled from across the country (and world) to test their gold-finding luck and brave the wild and the cold.
I’m sitting here watching the bay as an otter passes. Free and careless he twirls and turns while pawing at his soft brown face. His little eyes are beads of black placed strategically near his tiny nose making one think that even God after creating him had to step back and admire just how adorable the creature was.
Resurrection Bay’s blue skies have started to fill with snow-bearing clouds and a low hanging mist. The snow highlighted mountains once splayed out majestically against a blue-bird sky and reflective in all their glory against the water, have now become more hazy and less visible.
A storm is rolling in from the sea and snow begins to fall as a winter wind begins. It stings at my face and I snuggle a bit deeper in my snowy seat crunching the mixture of snow and smooth, black pebbles below me. I’m completely comfortable in my bundled layers. The littlest bit of my breath that escapes from my scarf covered face reveals a small appearing and disappearing cloud against the cold air.
As the mist thickens the horizon line becomes impossible to distinguish, everything becomes shades of soft gray and muted sea-blue. But in its own way, the snow billowing, misty bay is just as beautiful. It’s softer, tranquil now. One is left to determine where she believes the sea ends and the mountains begin. Seagulls call out as the fly through the wind and increasingly snowy sky. A bald eagle swoops toward the water and disappears as he ascends into the thickening mist near the rocky and snowy cliffs of the encircling mountains.
I imagine I can encapsulate the moment. Completely hold it in its vidid authenticity forever, somewhere safe within me. Somewhere in a still and spacious place of my soul. I imagine what I would be like if I became more like this moment, if I allow it to become a part of me. And as I close my eyes again, I’m the 6 year old girl running through the backyard howling and free as the wolf, I am the whale swimming and leaping with salty crashes as I reach for the sky then slap down against the sea.
I lift my head and feel the snow melting as it hits my face. I am six years old. I am free and I am home.