October 25, 2006
Here’s some interwoven music that forms a sonic, three-part braid.
Many years ago I traveled around Alaska, and my memories of that expansive and relatively unspoiled part of the planet remain vivid. Any place where the animals far outnumber the people suits me fine.
Everyone who’s been there will tell you about the glaciers, the bald eagles, the weather, and the state bird (the mosquito). The only place I’ve ever been when such huge buzzing/swooping/biting locals prevented me from pitching my tent in the woods was up around Talkeetna. Defeated, I spent the night in the safety of the historic Fairview Inn, in the very same room that gave similar refuge to President Warren Harding back in 1923. Of course, rumor has it that Harding was poisoned there, so perhaps putting up with a few mosquitos might have turned out to be a better idea for the guy.
But I digress.
As I said, most visitors to Alaska recall the Big Stuff. And there’s lots of big stuff up there. But one of the things I most remember about Alaska is something I never hear people mention: its braided rivers. They are stunning. Looking down at them from any height reveals complicated patterns, as if M.C. Escher might have been in the irrigation business. Etched sediment flows in many directions and the longer you look, the less keen your depth perception: you could be staring at something the scale of the Grand Canyon, or a Tonka Toy. Either sizing chart fits the imagination.
Walking along the beach here at Paradise Cove yesterday, the braided trails in the wet sand triggered this memory, and I smiled. The sediment of my happy trip long ago has etched its own patterns in my mind and I look forward to returning someday, to challenge my perspective on life’s unexpected, interwoven paths.