As I left the greenhouse and walked toward the house, I heard a loud puhhh-HUP behind me. I twisted around and took two steps toward the ocean, just in time to see an orca whale’s black, dorsal fin disappear below the surface.
I’m always humbled by gifts like this; surprise snippets of life. Like this morning: I looked up from doing dishes just in time to see the gibbous moon appear between puffy clouds. My hands paused in soapy water.
And so goes my life in Kodiak, Alaska. Here is the first of seven images I’d like to share from a week on the Emerald Isle…
Speaking of moons and other celestial things, a photographer friend and I drove out the road on Sunday morning, my camera in the passenger seat, in search of whatever inspired us. We pulled over by the Olds River bridge and was stunned to see the water calm and unruffled.
Dining with dolls
On Monday, I had a craving for borscht, so I stopped in to Monk’s Rock coffee shop. It’s a coffee shop and restaurant on one side and a gift store filled with orthodox books, icons, prayer ropes, you name it. While waiting for my order, I explored the quaint shop, stopping at this collection of Russian nesting dolls.
Coming back from the gym on Tuesday morning, I noticed the clouds were forming horizontal bands across the sky, announcing a cold front brewing. I’d always wanted to photograph this particular rock and tree (which reminded my of the Lone Cypress in Monterey, California, probably the most-photographed tree in the U.S.) but I needed permission from the property owner to cross their property onto the beach.
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I’m not very good at doing such things but, gym clothes and all, I knocked on the door, talked with the guy-at-home and got a thumbs-up. So I dashed home for my camera and tripod. Midday, harsh shadows, not great light; but I shot it with black and white in mind.
Continuing on a tree theme, I love the Sitka spruce trees in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. Any weather. Any time of year. They are like old friends as I walk the trails. Late one evening (it was getting dark) I was almost back to the trailhead when I passed this expressive tree. I turned around and set up my tripod. Back at my computer, I played with the texture and color in a program called Topaz Labs, giving it a painterly, impressionistic look.
Good morning, moon!
A friend agreed to help with garden projects, so I agreed to pick her up. As she settled into the passenger seat, I noticed that the clouds were blushing with pinks and blues. “We need to take a detour first,” I said.
We drove about three miles to the end of the road, where a salmon stream flowed into the ocean. The frozen grass crunched under our feet as I walked in circles, evaluating the scene. “Look!” she said, “There’s the moon!”
Another one of those surprise snippets of life.
The librarian at Kodiak College recently retired, so the staff put on a party to celebrate her next step in life. The food–from rhubarb tarts to dipped strawberries–was beautifully displayed on these risers made from spruce logs. I didn’t know what else to call them. Food risers? Toadstools? Supports? I’m open to suggestions.
Note: After posting these photos, a suggestion came in for the food risers: Sweet Seats! Perfect, isn’t it?
The blue hour
The tide was out, the sky was blue, and the sun was lighting up the clouds in an oh, so special way. You see, for centuries, artists have treasured this rich light, called the blue hour, a period of 45 minutes or so before sunrise and after sunset. On this morning, light reflecting in the tide pools created beautiful ribbons of pink and blue. (Based on the response I’ve gotten, I might have to make prints of this scene to sell in the art gallery we built in our Cliff House B&B).
Back to the killer whale sighting I told you about at the beginning. (You’ll have to read this to get the punch line).
Having watched the whale slip under water, I glowed in humbled awe for a few moments. Then my thoughts skipped to a comment a marine biologist friend made recently when I asked, “How was your day at the office, Kate?”
“Oh, I was out on the boat all day sampling whale scat. Now if you think whale breathe is bad [it’s very fishy, in case you wondered] then you aught to smell whale farts!”