Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Primary Colors of Life

Forget what you learned about the primary color wheel in elementary school! Red and Yellow have absolutely nothing to do with Life as we know it. The true primaries are Green, Brown, Blue, and White. Green, as in vegetation, is what attracts lovers of jungles, forests, lawns that require mowing, heavy rain, tropical islands and on and on. You get the point. Brown is for desert lovers, not to be confused with dessert lovers, although most chocolate is brown I suppose, and according to Marilyn, “white chocolate-Isn’t!) Fans of Brown take their color variation in the form of sunrises and sunsets that paint the sky and the sand with all the non primary life colors. They like their basic scenery to be a lovely neutral brown, thank you very much. They appreciate green in small quantities, but tire of it quickly, as they tend to see only green and not shades of green. They think blue is over-rated for the most part. But to each his own. Blue is for those who spend every possible moment of their time on the earth looking out to sea…or floating around on an ocean of blue in a boat, often going from ocean to ocean. For them, life is less terrestrial and more fluid. White, without a lot of comment is for those who want the green to be covered with snow, the blue to be frozen and looking more white than blue, and the mountains to be snow capped so they don’t look so gall darned brown. Some people like only one color, so they don’t travel much and/or they live where there is only one season- and it delivers the color they like the best. Others like all the primaries, so they build a life where the colors change with the time of the year and the seasons of their lives. With all this in mind, consider the “guest” commentary offered below.

Below is the text of the letter sent to our friend (Joan) from a friend of hers (John Edens, who authorized its use here)….I’m including it in the post (largely in its entirety) because, while it is not a perspective I necessarily share, it is certainly one I can appreciate, and besides, the sense of humor incorporated is “primary” material- even if you haven’t “been here, seen that.” The comments cover a broad range of experiences in Alaska and places- some that we have visited already, and some that are still ahead on our agenda. We expect our paths will be crossing in Anchorage over the next couple weeks. Hope we can make the acquaintance!

Joan wrote:
From my friend John, working in Alaska for
several months. Sounds like he's reached the
saturation point. Remember, he is from Phoenix
and has lived in AZ, NM, FL,TX and CO. He is so
funny and I do believe he will be happy to be back in Phoenix. Joan

Then John wrote: (in brown, naturally)

Greetings from green, green, very green Alaska,

Remind me to mention the volcano.

Green - All right I’ll confess. I am really home sick for brown.
Everything here is so richly, deeply, lushly, overwhelmingly green. I’m
sick of green. The grass is green. The weeds are green. The trees are
green. Green is everywhere and it’s thick. You can’t see the forest for
the green. Going to Denali you drive down a tunnel of green with visually
non-permeable walls. It’s claustrophobic. Really. Alaska is striking but it
is sooo monochromatic.

There is a little patch of dead grass in our yard. I embrace it. On the way
to Denali, we drove through the destruction from last year’s fire. I liked
it. It was a glorious combination of black, tan and brown. This - Alaska,
is so remarkably spectacular - but the green wears on you after a while.
Chaco, where even the trees are brown, will look glorious.

Baylor ­ I’m sorry that I feel this way.

Water ­ There is no shortage. I have seen people watering their driveways.
I’m serious.

David ­ (1) We live on a street named DeLong Landing. I told Bill that it
was probably better than DeShort Landing. (2) There is a nursery (plant
type) here named “Ground Effects”. (3) The Tasty Freeze close to the house
claims to be world’s Northernmost Tasty Freeze. Their motto is “where
selling ice cream to Eskimos isn’t a joke, it's a business plan."

Weather ­ Darn near perfect. Sunny, still and low 70s. Feels like fall in
Texas. The only unique part is the daily high hits somewhere around (like)
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM because the sun is still high. Which brings us to -

Sunshine ­ Lots and lots of it. All the time sunshine. Last Thursday was
the Summer Solstice and we officially had nearly 20 and ½ hours of sunshine.
However, remember what I said - them officials lie. It never got dark. I
got up around (like) 1:30 AM, which split the difference between sunset and
sunrise, and went walking for an hour. Dark was not noticeable. I promise.
I saw no dark during my walk. I am sooo tired. Monday night in
Fairbanks, my room had a blackout curtain & I got 8 hours sleep. (The sun
was up nearly the whole 24 hours). All that darkness and sleep was

Fires ­ Last Friday, I thought that we had one of those gray overcast days
that we had earlier in the spring. Nope. When I got to the airport, I
realized that it was smoke from the fires on the Kenai. Many, many houses
and cabins burned down ­ sad. In a lot of places they can only fight to
save the cabins with aircraft because they are accessible by ground only in
the winter when it is frozen. Too marshy, boggy and green in the summer.
(Penny Ann asked me how the fires were doing. I replied that they were
doing quite well, thank you.)

Travel ­ we have done it.

Homer ­ Weekend before last, we drove down to Homer at the south end of the
Kenai Peninsula for a three day weekend. That involves again driving the
stretch of road that I believe may be the most dramatic that I have seen.
That is the place of the waterfalls, where the mountains leap 4,500 feet
straight up out of the water, and Turnagain Arm has the 38 foot tides.
Green or no green, I will always love that place. The drive then devolves
into a green tunnel for 150 miles until you come out at the other end of the
tree culvert and once again you see the mountains across a major bay, this
time climbing darn near straight up to (like) 10,000 feet. If you have seen
10 pictures of Alaska, you have seen at least one of this place. You stand
and stare and can’t take it in. It is beautiful beyond conception,
description or belief. There are many places in the Rockies where the
mountains soar, but they don’t just soar out of the water like these. My,
my, my.

The next day, we took a meticulously maintained 35’ wooden boat across the
bay to a little artist’s colony named Halibut Cove. The unmarked opening
hides in the cliff face until you get right to it and I told the captain
that I suspect that she has done the trip before. The captain (her daughter
is the crew) works that boat for 3 months in the summer and sails a
sight-seeing Trimaran in Hawaii in the winter. Tough life. Cool, but flat
water & a nice ride. Halibut Cove, population 25 year round, nearly all
artists, 2 galleries (good stuff), and a small restaurant with excellent
food, beautifully (artfully) presented. Returned way after my bedtime so I
dozed below wrapped in a blanket. The next day, on the way back to
Anchorage, Nora navigated us down a dirt road that she remembered seeing on
a map a few years ago, past a large picturesque lake set in low mountains,
and into a valley with a stream running its length and several ponds, that
was set below us as we peaked the mountains. (Tony ­ we saw a loon (I could
call it as a loon ­ I was proud of myself) that a guy identified as a
Pacific Loon and said they were pretty rare up here. We also saw what I
identified as some kind of grouse, with chicks, but now realize may have
been a ptarmigan).

Somehow, we managed to work in a few museums and a US Fish & Wildlife
Visitor’s Center. The VC was so very nice. It really makes one feel bad
for poor little Cabeza Prieta NWR until you realize that it, like most of
the rest of the public facilities in Homer & Seward, was built with Exxon
Valdez money.

It may be that the most interesting thing on the way back was what Nora
called ­ combat fishing. The salmon had just started running on the Russian
River and the banks were crowded with fly fisherfolks crammed and rammed in
and with more in boats full to the gunnels with people casting at the people
on shore. Nora said that she has seen it with black bears crammed in with
the fisherpeople, all ignoring each other. This is the big revenue day of
the year for the state troopers writing parking tickets along the highway.

Denali ­ I think that I have reached some sort of DRAMATIC LANDSCAPE
saturation point. It is spectacular, gorgeous, wild, majestic, whatever.
We saw moose with calves, a grizzly sow and cub (out of the window of the
4th bus in line) 3 fox kits playing and wrestling in a clear spot with mom
keeping a watchful eye out. (When she came over to the kits, they went
after her.) Maybe I was just tired, but Denali just went on and on and on
for 8 hours.

A lot of Denali is a rounded canyon, several miles in width, carved by
glaciers and containing a powerful river and many ponds. The valley is
crowned by Mt. McKinley (the natives call it Denali, “the big one” ­ who the
hell is this McKinley they want to know) at over 20,000 ft., and bottoms out
at nearly sea level. Here, in late June, the mountain is buried in snow and
looks just as dangerous as it really is. Four people died on it in one week
in May while I was here.

The VC complex is so nice. Poor Chaco. Perhaps we could talk Ted Stevens
into moving to New Mexico for a few years.

Fairbanks ­ Delightfully sleezy. Alaskaesque. You may need it again
someday so don’t throw anything away, toss it in the yard. Log houses with
no footings ­ log walls start on the ground and go up. Besides, it will
probably flood again when the river breaks up so why fix it up? It will be
buried in snow in a couple of months, so why clean it up? I really like
Fairbanks and the University is beautiful. It is reputed to be a great
geology and engineering school.

Enough. I don't even feel like proofing this and I always miss mistakes
anyway. It is after 5:00, I’m tired & I am invited for dinner at the B&B.
Someday, I will talk about Nanana (that is a place).

Things I forgot. (I always do that.)

Bald Eagles - there is definitely not a shortage. Nora calls them feathered
rats but I don't think it is that bad. One does see more bald eagles than
ravens, but I have not seen any in the highway going after road kill. And
it is still kinda "cool" to look out the office window and see one circling
the parking lot.

Float planes - there are more float planes than bald eagles. Everybody's a
bush pilot now days.

Volcanoes - Johnny Cash has nothing on Alaska. (Yes, we did see one venting

Critters - I finished all my goals except the wolf and that was a stretch.


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