It was a long, long time ago. In an unspoiled land, at least back then it was pristine. It was northwest on Glacier Highway, bypassing Mendenhall Glacier, out in Auke Bay; the closest town was Juneau – Alaska – where everything is big. It was early spring, 1975, and a chill was in the air, as it often was during the six months I lived in Juneau.
I had gone fishing with my mom and my boyfriend, Bill. We stood on the wet, slippery rocks and cast out into the Bay, hoping to haul in a fat, shiny salmon or two. Funny, but to this day I cannot remember if we caught any fish.
But I do remember that as we packed up and carefully tip-toed back toward our car I looked up. I am not sure why. But what I saw in the gray, overcast sky was etched into my memory and it remains there today. I would guess that there were at least fifty large, handsome bald eagles soaring in the gray, overcast sky. Too many to seem normal, even in Southeast Alaska where bald eagles are plentiful.
Mom and Bill continued the trudge over the slick surface and I hesitated. Just as I was about to call out to them to turn and look at the mass of bald eagles, I was overcome with bewilderment. In a fleeting moment I understood why the bald eagles had gathered.
On that chilly day I saw the biggest animal I have ever seen. A whale. A whale that was so big I cannot even fathom how large it was. It might have been a right whale (45-50 feet) or maybe even a massive blue whale (100 feet!). I’ll never know. It looked larger than the expanse of a football field. But what I will never forget was the sight of that whale rising out of the sea and the bald eagles hovering above the immense mammal – probably scouting for the fish tagging along with the whale.
And just as I had gathered my senses the whale disappeared back into the deep. It all happened so quickly. I was stunned. I didn’t believe I could adequately describe what just transpired to Mom and Bill. They would not be able to comprehend the vision. Hell, they probably would have thought I was joking.
So I caught up with them and continued the walk to the car. The bald eagles dissipated. The whale swam on.
I must say I cannot take credit for these pictures. I still have not had my camera with me when I most wanted it. These pictures, however, parlay the majesty of the surprise in the driveway of the small, run-down rambler.
I first saw it last year. It was in the driveway of a small, run-down rambler not far from where I live. It caught me off guard. It was such a surprise to see it in the driveway of a small, run-down rambler while I was power walking around my ‘hood. I pined for my camera, but it was at home, in a drawer in my office. So I buried the image in my mind, still so surprised to see it in the driveway of a small, run-down rambler.
It was majestic, regal in color, and in stance. It moved slowly, each step deliberate and calculated. It was not afraid of me, yet it did not venture toward me. I called to it, talked to it, held out my hand. It did not come.
It would be months before I saw it again. Even though each time I passed the small, run-down rambler I craved another sighting. And finally it happened – although only for a fleeting moment – I caught a glimpse of it in the same driveway of the small, run-down rambler as I was speeding by in my truck. Oh, if only I had taken the time to turn around and get another long look at the magnificent beauty.
Many more months went by without a sighting. However, on occasion I would hear it. I walk through densely treed environs and although I could not see it, I knew I heard the unique, high-pitched sound that it makes. You see, I had some experience with them many years ago and that unique, high-pitched sound does not ever leave one’s memory. It was around me, near me, but not to be seen.
With only the sound, I coveted the sight. And the more I walked, the more I needed to see it again. I won’t soon forget the early morning I most recently saw it. As I was power walking around my ‘hood, I came around the corner to the driveway of the small, run-down rambler and there it was. No unique, high-pitched sound to warn me – just the grand, stately presence of it standing in the driveway of the small, run-down rambler.
It was almost one year ago that I added Felipe Zapata’s The Zapata Tales to my blog roll on the right. He wrote about his life in Pátzcuaro, Mexico, his lovely Mexican wife and her family, the “love hotel” next door to his house, his beautiful homes and luscious garden at the Ranchito, sometimes hot political issues, cafecito and marmalade, and many, many other topics. Señor Zapata has a certain flair with his writing and it is most enjoyable to read.
Sadly, last week Señor Zapata announced that he was retiring The Zapata Tales and moving on to another writing venture, The Unseen Moon. I will miss his anecdotes about Mexico as The Unseen Moon will not focus on that subject matter. Nevertheless, the first few posts there are animal stories…even better than Mexican sagas…creative writing at its best.
I’d say the posts are quite descriptive and they produce vivid images. Just reading the words awakens my sense of smell, touch and taste. Go for a visit. You won’t be disappointed.
I “met” Teresa from Lake Stevens though another blogger’s blog that belongs to First Mate (Bliss) in San Carlos, Mexico. Bliss and The Captain had sailed down the Sea of Cortez and were somewhere near Chacala. Teresa had been reading and commenting on Bliss’ blog and she knew the sailboat was anchored out in the water. One day Teresa spied the SV Bliss from shore and swam out with her son to introduce themselves. Yep, that’s just how she is.
Teresa, her husband, and son were in Chacala teaching English while on an extended stay in Mexico. At the same time Mike and I were preparing to move to Mexico to teach English and a connection with Teresa was made – via blog posts. We began to email each other and I found that she lived north of Seattle – not far from where we hailed.
When Mike and I moved back to the States, and landed in Salem, Oregon, Teresa came to visit and we met for the first time in person. It was as though we’d know each other a long time. Conversation flowed and stories were exchanged. During her visit we all hooked up with Mr. Steve Cotton – the blogger of all bloggers – who was still in Salem at the time. The emailing continued and when Mike and I finally made it back to Seattle, Teresa came to visit our new home. We’ve gotten together a few other times since then and our friendship has grown.
This past Sunday Mike and I met Teresa and her husband, Steve, for lunch. And to say good-bye – or I should say sayonara – for now anyway. You see, they are off to Nagoya, Japan, for a pair of years or more. Steve’s employer offered him an assignment he could not refuse so they packed up their house and this Saturday they’re off for a new adventure in the land of the rising sun.
We plan to keep in touch and I hope to learn about Nagoya vicariously through Teresa. In fact, if we plan it right, we might even go visit at some point. GOOD LUCK my tomodachi (=friend). See ya on the flip side!
24 rows back from the stage, outstanding sound, awesome view.
Ukuleles, mandolin, acoustic guitars, white Fender Stratocaster guitars, black Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar…+ violin, viola and a cello. Oh yeah and a Corona kick drum (beer box with a drum workshop kick pedal).
Acoustic, electric, unplugged, vocals, no-vocals, sing-alongs, Glen Hansard (opening act +), 4-piece string section including April Acevez (Matt Cameron’s wife).
Loud, soft, originals, covers (Neil Young, The Who...). No Daughter although a lot of chatting about his own 2 daughters and cries from the crowd for the song.
Eddie Vedder kicked off his Ukulele Songs tour in Providence, Rhode Island on June 16. Spin magazine covered the show and there’s an article here. Nice writing – and it includes the setlist.
Tonight and tomorrow night he wraps up the tour at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, an intimate 2,500 seat performance venue. Mike and I saw Pearl Jam do an acoustic show there in October 2003 – it was a benefit for YouthCare, a Seattle non-profit.
On Saturday I’ll see Eddie at Benaroya with his ukulele.