Monday, November 9, 2015

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into 
the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and 
baggage and chatter."

from Life and Letters of John Muir

I will be using some quotes from John Muir for a series of posts. This Sept. my wife, my mother-in-law and I took a cruise to Alaska. We saw the mountains and glaciers so beloved of John Muir and in Ketchikan my wife bought me two books, John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire by Kim Heacox, and Alaska Days with John Muir by Samuel Hall Young. I had not realized that Muir visited Alaska and certainly not that his experiences there were so central to his work promoting  the formation of the US National Parks system.  Muir's writings about Alaska spurred a tourist rush to see the Alaskan glaciers even in his day and I can only image, given the quote above what he would have thought of the great progression of cruise ship/hotels that venture north every  summer to retrace his trips to the area that is now Glacier Bay National Park. I do wish I had done a little more research/reading before the trip, that might be the old librarian surfacing.

Things that struck me about the glaciers, how blue they were and the great black striations indicating that they are old enough to be geology rather than mere ice, 

and their size, the folks below are included for scale, the deck that are standing
on is five decks above water level,

for scale again, at the base of the glacier I saw want I assume are sea lions 
they were barely visible with my 100-400 mm lens.


Once you folded entire continents, oceans rose and fell, lived, died at your whim
you coughed up boulders big as houses, pulled vast sheets of rocks across
thousands of miles, as effortlessly as a child with a blankie.

No one stood against you not man, not mammoth not muskox well maybe muskox
but mostly you came out on top, your gallstones ground a world to stretch marks and 
your cousins rolled through space with a heedlessness that made dinosaurs tremble.

Now it's all downhill, you clutch little boys tongues, nip their noses, lurk
in the mouths of alleys to attack someone home from the shops with a bag of apples 
and today you tripped a small white dog in red boots who bumped his chin on the curb.

Despite a short lived triumph as the screaming eagle centrepiece in a buffet
your future is mostly ice hockey, curlers in loud sweaters, and bobbing 
around an unfriendly world in a gaudy pink drink with a paper umbrella.

So there!

by Me


Kathie Brown said...

Wonderful photos, Guy! Love the poem as well! Ice is amazing stuff! I love your imagery! I especially like the line about the "stretch marks of the world!"

Guy said...

Hi Kathie

I am really glad you enjoyed the poem.