Friday, September 2, 2011

Perceptions and Perspectives

Did I mention trees in my last post?

I don’t know why, but I’ve always pictured Alaska as huge grasslands, mostly yellow-brown. I’ve seen pictures of it, too. That’s a different part of Alaska. Here, we have trees. Yes, trees.

Many trees—rather like Oregon. I haven’t found any oaks or maples, but the hills are full of pines and alders and birches. They’ll turn yellow and gold in another month, about the time the tundra on the mountains turns fiery red.

Plus, the lodge sits on a bit of a hill, and we look across an inlet at a huge peak full of all kinds of wonderful gorges and pockets.

Every time I look out at it, the light on it has changed and I want to take another picture.

 So—I’ve mentioned trees, but not people. Somehow I always have trouble mentioning the people. I tend to have big problems in my stories when I review that page I just wrote describing the snowflakes flickering around the campfire, and the wind beating on the pine branches while two characters sit next to the fire and talk—oh, wait…I have ten other characters around here somewhere. Now where did they go? (Fact: it happened a couple chapters back.)

I like trees better. They stand still while you look at them and don’t give you a dozen names at once which you can barely hear and never remember.

Anyway, by the evening after I arrived, I learned that the plane which brought me here is called the Navajo. Lake Clark Air has several other planes, one of which is usually called the 99, but can also be called Alpha-Kilo. Similarly, one of the float planes belonging to the lodge is called Kilo-Delta. Both planes are named after a section of their N number.

Are you confused now? That’s how I felt as I scrambled down the steps of the Navajo—not knowing yet that it was the Navajo—onto a gravel airstrip and found about a dozen people waiting for me.

Glen and Leyla, who own the lodge, a couple of their children, people from the hanger, a couple guys from the ground crew. Me? Let’s just say I lost track of who was who and who was what.

The guys loaded my duffle bag onto a mini-truck. I added my laptop case, before I realized that my large suitcase was still on the plane—under a small pile of boxes loaded for the next stop. The guys got that off, restacked the boxes, and loaded my suitcase on the truck. Then the plane taxied out to takeoff, leaving me in a crowd of strangers—nice, friendly strangers, but...yikes!

I didn’t have time to panic, though.

The guys drove off with my luggage, while Leyla collected me and took me up to the lodge. I met three more people—Jael, our cook, and two of the girls I was going to work with.

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