By a stroke of luck, I’m headed to an historic collective property that used to be a silver fox farm back in the 20s and 30s with four amazing Alaskan women. Back n the 60s several families pooled resources, time, and energy, bought the property and built an island paradise complete with many cabins and a wood fired bath house with tub and sauna. There was so much to explore. We hiked over the hill to a couple of old homesteads complete with landing strip and earth moving machinery. We talked to eagles while kayaking through volcanic arches and in the late afternoon drifted between the porch, food and the bathing house. We ate, soaked, told stories and laughed our way through a couple of glorious days.
The women up here are strong, independent, opinioned, encouraging and diverse. Stories were poignant and funny. Everything from living in self made small cabins without running water, to building and losing businesses and partners. There were stories of world travel and plane crashes (yes, moe than once!) and stories of fighting cancer. Story tumbled into laughter then back into story over and over again.
Everything about Alaska is big: land, people, time, and consequences. The time changes by six minutes a day, the tide sometimes reaches 24 feet, the earthquakes are the biggest in the world…well, you get the idea. Big. It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you build. People value time and take pride in what they have created. They live a life that follows the sunlight. For most, the work is intensive in the summer and slows way down in the winter. There is genuine enthusiasm and sense of community. Alaskans applaud when someone quits a job or follows a dream.
It is early morning of the day we head back across the bay, I sit in the loft and watch the concentric ripples of water reveal the resident otter as he gathers and munches his breakfast. He has been here for years, dving and reemerging on his back to crack open shells and consume the salty deliciousness. He is keeper of the bay. A bald eagle soars overhead and calls warning to the fat jays busy knocking at the cabin window for nuts. A couple of loons have a very loud and startling conversation that is like nothing I have heard before. One last look around the other side of the cove before we board the boat. There is a cross on a small island commemorating the spirit of an influential local character. I am captivated by the history and wildlife of Alaska.