When I opened my eye from your kiss, we were sitting in a red two-person kayak. You seated in the front and I the back. The sky was grey and low lying, the water a slate grey and calm. The wind was slight but infused with the scent of a cold sea. Looking around I could see we were at the mouth of a u shaped bay. At its apex, was a blue white glacier that wound into imposing primal looking mountains in the background. I was just about to tease you about me have to do the hard work, paddling in the stern, a large cracking sound, as if a telephone pole was being broken in two, interrupted me. We turned to see part of the face of the glacier collapse into the sea.
As I turned our little vessel to meet the waves caused by the glaciers calving, I said. “Its hard to believe that it has taken the ice thousands of years to make it back to the sea. It makes me think about the value of patience while at the same time reminding about the brevity of our time here on earth…..”
You said something but it was muffled. it is hard to hear when you are sitting in the back of a kayak and your partner is facing away from you. I told you needed to turn your head because I could not hear you. You showed me your lovely smiling face and said “ My darling, please, next time give a girl a little notice. One moment we are in Paris and the next minute I am sitting in a Kayak. I didn’t even get a chance to finish my Mille Feulle…..”
I knew you were teasing me but I responded “I am sorry. I promise from now on when I will give you fair notice so you can finish your dessert. And you know where we are.”
You flashed me a smile, with brown eyes full of knowledge. “Alaska…” And, when I nodded ascent, you added “But where?”
“If memory serves we in Aialak Bay, southwest of Seward and a part of the Kenai Fjords National Park. Hey…look over on the right at about 2 oclcok. Do you see that brown thing floating in the water.”
Laying in the water not fifteen feet from us was a large, over a meter long, sea otter. He was floating on his back and appeared to have a rock on his chest on which he was pounding some kind of mollusk shell. We both watched until he got the shell opened and ate what little meat was inside and again dove below the surface. You turned to me and said , “He was so cute and did you see how clever he was in opening that clam.”
I laughed, “If you think that is cool, look over there.You see that rock outcropping off the port bow, go left about 15 degress and them come in towards us about 100 meters.” Your gazed shifted and just as you locked in a black and white object lept from the sea, rolled over and landed on its back.”
I heard you gasp “Orcas!”
“There is a pod of about 6 of them over there. See their fins sticking out of the water. I think they are hunting…..” We sat quietly for a while the silence with only interrupted by the t lapping sound of the sea against the hull and the occasional screech from the sea gulls following the whales.” When they had passed beyond a rocky point and out of site. I said “You asked me to warn you. It is time to move on.”
You turned and said, smiling “It is so pretty here. So peaceful. I feel like I am the first person ever to see this place.”
“I know. Alaska is like that….so unspoiled. You can imagine the world when it was young. Like when you were a child and you found something and were convinced that you were the first person ever to see it. But as much as I would like to stay here with you you warned me our time was limited andthere are other places in Alaska I want to show you.. Ready.”
“Yes, my love.” And breaking all the rules of seamanship I leaned forward and kissed you.
We are sitting on a mountain top. Below us a long serpentine lake its water an opalescent blue. In front of us, north and on the horizon was Denali. The largest, and tallest, mountain in North America. In the west, the sun was just above the horizon illuminating the lower Kenai delta with dark oranges and earthy reds. In the east, the Chugach range with the sun just about to peak its pink incarnation over the sharp peaks of the mountain.
The air was crisp, and you were cuddled in close both for warmth and for the comfort our touch provides us You whisper in my ear “I knew you were going to let me see the duplicitous sun…rising and setting at the same time ! But I thought we would see it from the balcony on a cruise to Alaska.
“I know. And perhaps we will. But this place is special to me and I thought it the perfect place to show you that there are some places on earth, where at special times, you don’t have to go through darkness to find the new day. Where darkness is not inevitable but a memory.
You squeeze my hand, snuggle in even closer and ask, in almost a whisper “Why is this place special to you?”
“You know the story I tell about being with Dad in Alaska. The hike I took on Father’s Day, where I found the bear scat in the woods that I gave him as a present that he kept on his desk for years and now sits on my bureau.”
“Well, this is where I hiked to that day. And, I remember when I reached here how overwhelmed I was by the beauty while the same time being sad because I knew it was a place that Dad would have love to have seen. I told myself then, that I would soak in the beauty of this place and when I got back, I would use every skill I had in storytelling, to tell him about this place. That moment on this mountaintop made me realize that age and infirmity was making Pop’s world smaller and that if I wanted to help feed his wanderlust, I would have to share my journeys with him.”
“Everywhere I go, even now after he is gone, I think about how I would describe where I am to him. To have the answers ready for his questions.”
“I miss him.”
You burrowed in closer and squeezed my hand and for a while watched the sunrise and sunset at the same time. Then you leaned forward and just before kissing me said “Thank you for bringing me here.”