Just 2 months ago the Vibram soles on my hiking boots clenched sandstone; now they clung to wet wood as slippery as black ice. Just 3 months ago I spoke in Taos to standing room only on the return of the sacred; now I was rendered mute by Alaska's undomesticated world. Just 4 months ago I sat with my husband of 15 years in tears as we filled out divorce papers; now I moved, floated actually, into single life. All I wanted was my pick-up truck and the 19-ft travel trailer. A closet full of possessions to keep life light. The no-frills Thea G fit right into the picture. She was raw basics, right down to the bucket that served as a toilet and the rusty 2-burner propane stove.
I was awakened by Teak's bark. Her warnings were rare and never ignored. I rolled from beneath my sleeping bag and stepped onto the deck (of course it was light at 3:00 a.m.!) to spy a line of 4 otters about 30 yards away on shore, skittering across rock and slipping into the sea. "Good girl," I said into her contented eyes. I'm amazed how she smelled them as she slept in the windowless hull of the boat on the floor beneath my berth. The little Lab was turning into a veteran sea dog. Peeing was her challenge. Hell, it was mine too. Teak couldn't sit on the boat side, hang her butt over and let loose like I did. Proudly, I might add. No, she insisted on waiting; and waiting. Something would need to done about this.
We continued towards Elfin Cove, treated to a solitary Humpback's show as he breached straight up from the sea; fell like a giant tree in an explosive splash. Then he surfaced, laid on his side for minutes on end and slapped his pec on the water. A 'humpy's fin is 1/3 his total length; this one was white as snow. Ker-plunk. Ker-plunk. A mesmerizing show of strength and perseverance.
This slap is a mystery. Scientific ideas abound for its purpose. As for me, I was weary of attempts to explain the unexplainable. My own included.
Ker-plunk. Splash. I closed my eyes and stood in the wake of this power. Imagined my sadness coming loose like so many scaly barnacles. Sinking into the sea.