Away from the studio over Labor Day weekend - and a few days on either side - because my family and I were in Kaktovik, Alaska on the far northern end of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A special trip really, that will resonate with me for years to come. I'll write more as I sort my thoughts and get back to the work at hand. For now, a collared mother bear on a gravel bar not too far from our boat!
To wit, the rain that preceded our Alaska trip DID do a fine job of changing the game for fire activity in the region. Summer will take another good shot at us with hot temps into the Sept. 12-13 weekend, but these cooler and slightly damper weeks have been a blessing.
For those of you farther from home, the three young firefighters remembered above, recently lost their lives while keeping our community safe. Famous is a poem that Tom Zbyszewski, a local kid working summer fires, performed in his state finals for Poetry Out Loud in the spring of 2013. He may also have performed it here at Twisp's Merc Theater, as I swear that I can picture him reciting it.
In any case, it is a fine poem and a worthy tribute (I hope) to the everyday but still heroic efforts that our firefighters and many others make to keep others safe -- even at times at great cost. A humble kind of service that is inherently heroic of course, but never demanding of any particular praise or recognition. Thank you all for your service and rest in peace.
What a difference a week makes. Just seven days ago I returned from vacation -- a nice little respite from an otherwise busy patch of summer reading visits and the nearly final stretch of a quite overdue book illustration project.
Seven days ago I was refreshed and ready to go. Ready to dive back into my work - to put the final touches on Beluga Whales and then wade gracefully into my new book with Sterling and the fast-approaching fall high school xc season. Hmph. The best laid plans.
On Wednesday afternoon about 1pm, a wildfire started in the Twisp River area - about 8 miles south of my home near Winthrop, WA. One more fire added to an already boiling-over cauldron of activity here in eastern Washington. While my home and family remained -- and continue to remain -- generally out of harms way, there is, once again, a widespread impact to these events that will resonate for many months to come. In this case too, a tragic loss of three young lives that tends to put everything into even greater perspective.
And so. With some personal stress finally relieved by the generator-powered, evacuation-notice-bedamned completion of Beluga Whales, Grizzly Tales, my heart goes out to all that are much more in the thick of it than I.
A GRRReat vacation on the Olympic Peninsula... and now its full steam ahead and back to work. Alas, too short... And, as per usual, I frequently exercise my own little grapplings with the world through the wise and knowing critters of Harts Pass. Enjoy what remains of summer break!