Jul 23, 2006

WORM BARN REDUX
JUNEAU, Alaska:
The mist billows upward, revealing turquoise icebergs and basking seals. The cliffs resemble coal slabs, soldered into a smooth mass. Tracy Arm has an austere beauty that somehow eluded Glacier Bay.

We enter Ford's Terror, the fjord that rattled a gormless navvie back in 1889. He rowed a dinghy through the narrow entrance at slack tide. When the waters rose – and boiled through the granite-bottomed bottleneck – Ford cringed for six hours amid horrific currents.

The passage remains tricky and the timing rarely suits tour boats.

"This is the landscape that makes sense to me," Edward comments. "Mountains without tops."

I agree. When my family moved from Cape Cod to the Pacific Northwest, my eleven-year-old self imagined such mass, such gravitas. The Skagit Valley foothills were a disappointment, long before I suffered my logging-town schoolmates' tales of cat-shooting and cousin-kissing.

Concrete, Washington: home of Smitty's Worm Barn. Tobias Wolff captured it far better than I ever could.

We moved downriver for some easy livin' on the estuary. Mexican restaurants with mariachi bands and deep-fried ice cream. A minivan in every country-club McMansion driveway. A relatively sophisticated place where I was no longer mocked for falling against the bullpen's electrical fence and having a convicted murder for a landlord.

But that dream of mountains remained, deep under the teased bangs and rural-teen resentment.

Here they are, at last. And how.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:37 PM

    When will we see "This Girl's Life," then?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Um, I was thinking more of "Road Remedies, the collected essays" ... but with a more catchy title.

    Edward argues for "Dating up the Food Chain," but I've yet to show much evidence of that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous6:51 AM

    Mis-matched undies and other troubles-
    The trails and tribulations of AC



    Hugs, Your chest-mate!

    ReplyDelete
  4. S, you gorgeous girl, I could never stack up to your glory!

    But I may well adopt your friend's potential-mate humor check (a raunchy black-lacy push-up paired with elasticated ribbed cotton knickers and red woolen socks on every first potential 'cloth-off' date).

    But where to find the knickers? The nearest M&S is several thousand miles away.

    Alas.

    ReplyDelete