Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shaman Island: Alaska


There is a mystical, magical place off the northern coast of Douglas Island that is accessible at very low tides from the cove just south of the area known as Outer Point.

The island's steep rocky shores quickly rise from sea level to ~40 feet and one can see eagles and birds of all kinds upon the rocky beaches. The beaches are rocky and slippery with small shells, seaweed, mosses and tide pool life.


My sister-in-law, Paula and I walked out on the peninsula-like spit as far as we could and used our binoculars to see the small spiraling sand piper like birds as they feasted on the tiny critters our own eyes could not quite see.

It was an overcast day, but brightly lit from within by nature's beauty and the rejuvenating glow from they sky, water, and mountains on either sides of the channel. And while the temperature was mild,
we were quite chilled by the water's edge.


Here, I was actually wearing three tops, two coats (1 underneath one meant for kayaking and 1 on top of insulated down) , long fleece underwear, snow pants, gloves and boots and it is already April! (I've lived in Oregon too long ;)

My pony tail quickly fell out of my hat and down my back as you can see above.....I'm lucky an eagle didn't grab it (and me) and hoist me up and away!

My sister-in-law, shown above, is almost never cold, so she gave me her outer coat! She makes me laugh. There is a natural spontaneity of play between us that is always present and available to me even during the most challenging or depressing of work filled days and care giving.

After a thermos of hot tea and a ripped up and shared baguette of bread, we played our flute-like recorders, read from a book of poetry to the sun, the sea, the sky, and the swirling birds, and then packed up our belongings with freezing fingers to head back onto the boardwalk path as we hiked back to our parked car ...me lagging behind with our two canine companions and finding my usual collection of sticks and stones, lichen and moss, and all the wildcrafting gifts of nature that I so treasure :)

Care givers need respite and renewal and never more than when caring for a loved one who so often cannot talk or give back to them in any visible way. I am grateful to be here with my mother and to make a difference in her life, but it is a kind of challenging awful at the same time.

We are exhausted from the hours upon hours of cleaning out of the attic,basement, bedrooms and many, many closets and dresser drawers as we prepare the house for another brother and his family to move in when I leave once again. We have organized and cleaned, packed up and given away, cried and remembered, shared and bemoaned the changes in all of our lives, and most of all the losses in the lives of my mother as she struggles to cope with deeply advancing Alzheimer's and the tangled and subconscious loss of my dad last August.

We are all forever changed and changing and trying to make sense every day of all that is senseless and without reason, or reasoning. Forever, trying to find the energy to keep going...again and again, with so much daily work and so much intense personal care required. Those of us who try, and those of us who do it all, are often drained to our core.

It was wonderful to escape for one afternoon, to get out of a dark house filled with so much work and out into the bright light and fresh air of the childhood land that I so love.

Thank you for the gift of such a good day, a good friend and sister in heart and spirit, lovely bread and tea, and a wonderful hike into the beauty of Alaska's natural world.

I will forever be grateful for this day.

12 comments:

  1. It is so true about the caregiver needing a bit of respite. I am heading to the hills for this upcoming weekend and then it is back to the worry and cares.

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  2. Pasaste un día estupendo observando la naturaleza!!! el lugar es precioso. Un beso

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  3. I know just how you feel. I love caring for my Mom though. I won't have her soon, so any time I can spend with her is precious even though it can become frustrating at times.

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  4. Send lots of warm thoughts and huge hugs. Hugs

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  5. I'm so glad you had this day away with your SIL - and that it was so refreshing for you. I'm also very grateful that your posts about your class with Jean Wells will be up "forever" so I can come back when I have more time/inclination to glean what I can from them.

    May the good you've sent out into the world now come back to you in abundance.

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  6. I can only imagine what you are going through. I'm glad you got some time away with your SIL. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time.

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  7. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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  8. It looks like a good place to find some peace in the upheaval of day to day life as a care taker.

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  9. What a beautiful spot- It has been a long winter here in Alberta and we are tired of the snow and cold.
    It is wonderful that you and your SIL could spend time just being and enjoying the outdoors.
    I have been thinking of you these days and wondering how you are managing to do all that you are doing-
    I know you will find the joy in the situation and make the best of the challenges. I know my mother and aunt could relate to this post- they cleaned out my grandmother's home. It had been her home for 67 years- so many memories and items to clear away. Like you, they laughed and cried and cleared out so much stuff for a small home.
    Sending you a big hug,
    Warmest regards,
    Anna

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  10. When your soul goes through these times in life it can indeed be healed by a walk in and around nature with the sites and the smells and the reminder that God is always near and with you and everything on the earth. Picking up a shell, a rock or something simple like a twig with moss of it can be a lasting reminder of that day-you are in my prayers Michele

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  11. A little heart-rest to appreciate some of the offerings of nature. Breathe! Enjoy any moments that ease the heart.

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  12. Alzheimer's is a very difficult and heartbreaking journey to be on. Care givers need every moment of solace that is available. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    sao in Midlothian, VA
    www.shirleyannesheart.com

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.