journey of river chickadee chapter three
by robin brown
January 29th, 2004. Day Two of our Journey from Alaska to Western North
My puppy Kootenai and I wake to the sound of Uncle Paul in the kitchen.
I hop out of bed and peek out the bedroom door. He is putting on his
arctic gear and boots to go out and check on the vehicles to see if
they will start. I feel fortunate that he is a mechanic and has lived
in Alaska for 35 years. I couldnt ask for a more capable traveling
is minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. I get dressed and sit on
the floor pulling Kootenai on my lap. She lays patiently while I tug
her fleece booties over her paws and wrap the velcro snugly around her
ankles. She knows. She doesnt go outside without them and if I
dont get them on tight, the snow will get in them or theyll
fall off. She also gets her orange reflective vest and flashing light
dog tag. Okay, I dote on her a little bit, but it is terribly dark out
there and if she gets off leash I want her to be seen. We go for a little
walk and I encourage her to do her business. Im eager to get on
the road. Her vest crackles, frozen stiff, and I wonder if it will break.
She is oblivious. A fuzzy little pup amazingly able to use her sense
of smell in this weather, even in the snow banks! She continues reading
the local news with her nose until I once again encourage her to get
on with our task.
seems sharp at this temperature. The air is sharp in my nose. My truck
seat is as hard as a concrete bench and just as cold. I sit tall in
the seat since the bounce is frozen out of it. I turn the key in the
ignition and listen to the whine and squeal of the belts. Shivering,
with my shoulders tucked up around my ears and my fur hood flopped almost
to my nose, I peek out at the oil pressure gauge. I dont dare
leave the truck till it comes up to normal range. Then Im back
inside for breakfast, leaving the truck to warm up.
depart Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory at 7:30 am and continue our journey
in the dark. All I can see is the white snowy shoulders of the road
and the tail lights of Uncle Paul up ahead. It will be awhile before
it gets light. Kootenai is asleep on my lap, her booties off and laying
up on the defroster to dry. Im still not in the mood for music.
It just feels good to let my mind wander in the morning quiet. There
is so much that has led up to my traveling down this road. It was five
years ago that I first penned my thoughts regarding my life journey.
In a remote cabin on a river, 90 miles from Fairbanks, I sat and wrote:
a golden morning
but with the accent of silver. A few moments ago
it was calm, the surface of the river smooth as if it were frozen in
time. The call of swans in flight brought me to the front porch. Its
a giant vee compared to those of the geese or even the cranes. A giant,
glistening, white vee, each body a pure white form accented by its grey
line of shade as they fly with the rising sun at their left wings. Only
the creator could make something so pure white and graceful
faithful. It is said that swans mate for life.
notice the golden sun on the grass and on the trees. It is waking every
living thing in a gentle way. Of these things I have written many times.
But this morning, the dampness of the night has left a gift of shining
elegance for each tree, each bush, even each blade and branch. Its
the morning dew, the sparkling morning dew. Its on everything. Not one
thing is without its crown of brilliance. Each one shining as if the
creator had attentively and individually loved it. And each one shining,
proudly reflecting that beauty back to the world. If only people could
be like a dew drop in the morning sun, able to be filled completely
with light, yet never holding it in, reflecting it with beauty and brilliance.
All who see it know it is light. Yet it is still only dew, each drop
a tiny reflection of the Creator. Each drop such a minute, almost insignificant
part of the world around it, but truly with all the others like it,
an important part of the whole, a tiny bit of the waters of life.
breeze is caressing the earth, causing it to join its dance, the grass
to wave its rhythm, the water to riffle in harmony like the written
notes of a grand orchestra. Cob webs in the trees are delicately swaying.
They look so fragile. Be gentle, young breeze. Let the cob web play
too. It reflects a bouncing line of light. It shines the light of its
creator in its own unique way. If I were a cob web I would be like that,
stronger than anyone would imagine. If I were a drop of dew, I would
shine in the morning sun. If I were a swan, I would be pure and fly
south in the fall with others of my kind. If I were a breeze I would
caress the earth with love, all because my creator made me so. But Im
not a cob web or a drop of dew. Im me. My creator made me so.
I want to know what that means. How am I to be me, and how am I to reflect
my creator to the world? Thats my question and thats my
snuggles farther up onto my lap and sighs in her sleep. Does she feel
my restlessness? My eagerness? The morning sun begins to glow orange
through the ice fog, the trees and onto the mountains. I pull out my
video camera and take video driving down the road. It's a good thing
there isnt much traffic and what there is can be seen coming from
a long way off. The barren landscape is spectacular bathed in orange.
It feels like this video is a desperate attempt to bring all my memories
with me. Ive seen so much of the wild places and I still get thrilled
by the mountains and the sun, and the snow. One thing I can not bring
with me though, is the feeling of being somewhere truly remote. Ill
just have to remember it. We continue to roll down the road. Its
Canada, but it still feels like Im in Alaska because its
the Arctic and nothing of my scenery has changed. It feels like I havent
really left yet. I have not comprehended my freedom or the full impact
of my decision to leave. Is it even possible to know something like
that? I dont even really know where Im going. Asheville,
North Carolina, is only an idea in my head, a place on the internet
or the map. When will it feel real? I look as far as I can see down
the road. Maybe tomorrow