Tuesday, June 23, 2009

As I shuffled on down my favorite dusty trail just off the main drag of the three block metropolis of downtown Talkeetna Alaska; I came around the corner and stood face to face with 'the mountain', Denali, The Great One. That mountain has a hold on me, one that takes me back to the primordial before humans walked this earth. I have known this place before. I stand there feeling the ever present pull of the Great One.
I walk farther down the beach, no humans, just me, the mosquitoes, and the Arctic Terns. Perfect. Little did I know I was in for a show. I kept strolling down the river in the heart of Bear country wishing one would present itself. Bear never showed, electing to stay hidden.
I sat on a huge old log once driftwood but for the moment my chair. I reveled in the sounds at the confluence of the three rivers, felt at home with the gentle heat from the sun streaming on my face, and quite at peace...then it started... The Arctic Terns, I was in the middle of their feeding grounds. One flew at a blistering pace up the edge of the river towards me and stopped, hovering, looking at the river below him then he turned his head eyeballing me. I didn't dare move. He saddled over sideways no more than five feet from me. I could see his blazing red feet and beak, the night black cap on his head, and the blinding gray/white of his chest. He had me! In a flash he shot forward, I watched as he dove into the river for insects. I had plenty he could have, the mosquitoes were out in force and I had no bug dope on. No matter I was watching a dance of life.
Now the terns were everywhere, flying racetrack patterns over the rivers with me in the front row. They all came by closer and closer, I sat rock still in this place with no human sounds... no human sounds... say it...no...human...sounds.
The terns in their everyday hunt for bugs, mesmerized me and made me wish I was one of them if just for a few minutes. They are fighter jets, nimble, excruciatingly quick, and simply beautiful. They all seemed to stop where I was, one at a time, getting closer but not too close. Putting on a show of curiosity. I knew this was everyday life for them, ordinary, but for me...I wanted to fly with them badly.
I sat there on my driftwood log for hours watching the terns. A raven came by and landed on the sandbar about 50 yards off shore. The terns didn't really like raven in their place so a few went over and shared their feelings with raven. After a loud and quick to flair to violence confrontation raven decided he had other things to do.
Then the human sounds started.