Out Here the Mind Would Empty

By Helena Minton
                                     Shuyak Island, Alaska
 Wind blows from the mainland across the Straits
 over nettle-covered middens where I’ve dug
 for Aleut arrowheads, unearthing
 fish bones, clam shells, human teeth.
 Tribes slept near these hills
 and in daylight told of omens dreamed
 as elk of schools of spawning salmon.
 Trout broach, eagles circle overhead
 yet never enter my sleep.
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Colossal Roughhousing in Boundary Pass

Monday late afternoon, the water was lively, spirited

The south-easterlies blew overnight across Boundary Pass from the San Juans. The power went out before midnight, and we huddled in a dark bedroom that wasn’t much in the way of trees outside that might fall on us.

The wind howled through the night and most of the next day.… Continue reading

These Waters, This World Around Me

The sky on Monday evening was hazy, smudged, colourless. There were no clouds and no promise of a “sailor’s delight.” You could barely see Stuart and Waldron Islands through the murk.

I stood knee-deep in the water on our little beach at the foot of the cliff. The tide was unusually high. Despite several days of scorching temperatures, the water was as icy as ever.… Continue reading

The Ocean Within Us

The water temperature was 7ºC yesterday when I went for a late afternoon swim. Colder than usual, but the water was flat, calm, reflecting the pink and orange of sunset.

These were luxurious conditions for a long, slow cold-water swim. A flock of gulls circled and dove at the water out past the Living Rock Island.… Continue reading

A Water World

Even during the recent days of fire-smoke, I relished my late afternoon swims. The tide is high. The water is clear and flat, often with barely a ripple on the surface. I stand knee-deep on the foreshore, looking out at the pink sky or into the smoky murk. I’m surrounded by the familiar landscapes, the rocky cliffs behind, the Living Rock Island in our little bay, the rocks 30 feet offshore I like to swim out to.… Continue reading