Friday, February 25, 2011

McCubbins beach

"Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope or longing."-Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild
I know what this place is about. My memory tendrils grip the silt sand and gravel like the Kenai bluff by the McCubbins, year by year the rocks slip, the sand swallows itself and peels itself into the sand and sea below. A plot of land erasing the acres to convince its inhabitants it never existed. Yet I can never forget the scoop and swell feeling of swinging back and forth over that bluff on a home shop welded swingset made by "Uncle Ken", the one who swore and told slightly off color jokes through his missing teeth. Washed and purified, the crisp summer coolness and powder of sunshine warms my legs beneath my cut off jeans. The swing arcs as a gateway-Me on the back of Dave Rindlisbacker's motorcycle, sand softer than pearls, set nets and the rotten stench of a distant whale carcass, Dave Carlson's beach mazes that I always cheated to get out of, the windy sound of "My Favorite Things" woven through my friends voices, roasted hot dogs with friends and crushes, downstream-sessions of dip-netting, cloudy waves that pummel me down, sandcastles with Clinton with noble feathers, turtle domes, inedible sweet peas. Ebbs and flows, my heart races and slows. One hundred steps down the bluff. How many have stepped this course before? A mental painting effervescent, invigorating, reminiscent of youth and freedom. Here now, wanting my children to sketch similar patterns . Creating a canvas from which lines of development flourish. But this fierceness that Chris McCandless uncovered holds me back. Winter after winter after winter of quartz ice, crystalline sucks the idealism from my soul, scraping ice off the window breathing air that shouldn't be breathed fills me with anger. Layers of wool socks, ski-suit and scarves form an overcoat of resistance making it far too easy to stay isolated.