Outside in

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

~ John Muir

It feels superficially safe to remain within the confines of my human cocoon, tucked away in the folds of my mind. There may be neuroses in there, but at least they are familiar. I might even go so far as to call them my fair weather friends, ever-present but visible only on the clearest of days like the distant Fairweather Mountains. Precipitation that falls as quiet snow on these peaks builds and rolls to form roaring tidewater glaciers that crash into the sea. Hidden mountains leave their mark above and beneath the moody waters of Glacier Bay.


I embrace idiosyncracies in my daily life that offer at least a modicum of control and ritual – folding shirts, socks, and sweater in a particular rhythm, vacuuming the hair that cascades from my many critters like it is going out of style, flossing every night just before I brush my teeth, taking note of the breath as it swishes past my nostrils on the inward and outward passage.

Mist like tangled cobwebs stick to far recesses within my own mind, hugging the mountains and reaching down between the trees to tenderly touch lower branches and needles. Stepping outside is to slip into a watery world, moisture seeping into every nook, drops of water sitting atop buoyant leaves of soulful cow parsnip and sinful devil’s club.

I step outside of my office chrysallis, and I am enveloped by moisture and humpback song rippling over the surface of the water. A lone trumpet tremolo echoes from one end of the stage, answered by crashing and splashing of cymbals and timpani on the other. Thick condensation veils the view, guiding the eyes and ears to local sights and sounds. I peer through thick foliage to see mist rising in plumes from every corner of Bartlett Cove, mothers with their young feeding on capelin beneath the surface.

I make a game out of guessing where the next whale will lunge across the surface by surveying the area for flocks of Black-legged kittiwake crashing down from above in their own raucous feeding frenzy. Each time a humpback surfaces, the gulls disperse in shrill zig-zagging flight every which way, screaming “kitti-wake, kitti-wake, get away, get away”. Marbled murrelet squeak and belly flop along the surface of the water, taking flight just ahead of the massive mammals, a baton passing of sorts from one animal to the next. The cacophony of sounds its own unique orchestra tuning just beneath the surface of the water.

Time is still. Marine acoustics fill the air. I take a long, deep breath and disappear beneath the reflections.

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