Winter thoughts heading into Ketchikan

Winter thoughts heading to Ketchikan
Feb 11 2016
i am once again at sea….. we left in the darkness of night as the tide started to flood…… a journey i talked about all last summer…. a journey that tess always wanted to take…. i’m aboard the Aleutian Ballad, the famous king crab boat from the Deadly Catch, and we are heading to Alaska…. outside the rain is falling and i’m in the darkness of an early dawn…. the sea seems to be alive although the swells are small, yet the swells are pushing us around quite a bit…. the wind is blowing at 20 kts yet i’m protected as i sit in the pilot house both safe and warm…. i’m sitting in the helm chair on the port side of the boat and in the background is the steady hum of the engines…. slowly pushing us northward… we’re only still off the coast of Washington on a course that will take us north of Vancouver Island…. and the rain continues to fall

thoughts wander back to my time with Tranquility… i truly miss my little lady….. an unbroken dream that lived for 11 beautiful years until i walked away from her that evening in January…. my heart crying as real tears were felt…. a goodbye that was the hardest i ever had to do…. i often wonder where my lady is….. are hands like mine tenderly caressing her everyday…… i miss her scent….. i miss her touch…. i miss her being
i sit and watch the constant rain and the flight of the gulls….. carefree, just drifting with the winds…

Feb 12
and the rain continues to fall…. thinking back through yesterday i wonder did the rain ever stop….. once again it’s the quiet hours of predawn…. the world is dark and silent for i can’t feel the wind or hear the sea…. slowly this island that i float upon moves ever northward…. slowly and silently the wind and currents push us towards Alaska…. i am at peace in this moment, for the sea has always brought me peace… the steady rhythm of the swells…. the rain against the glass that i stare out through, to this cold distant world…. the marine radio breaks the silence with an advisory of a waiting storm in the distant…. but our journey will have taken us safely to the north of this storm…… looking to the east awaiting the dawn of this new day…. and the rain falls

Feb 13
the rain continues to fall…. i sit once again and look out at a world of wind, rain and swells….. it seems we left Astoria at the right time as we are staying ahead of the worst of the weather….. yesterday afternoon there were small windows of sunshine but mostly we been accompanied by gray skies and rain….. i can feel a drop in the chill in the air as we head further north….. north once again to my beloved town of Ketchikan….. but for the rest of today the swells and wind will continue to push us northward while this rain continues to wash our pallet….

being on this journey upon the sea one finds there are many idle moments that allows ones mind to drift like the currents….. at times i think of my past…. my many journeys that this soul of mine has experienced….. and as i think back to each of those journeys i wonder did i really know my course i was taking through life….. i feel most of the time i was just caught in the flood or ebb of the tides of my life…. did i really know my true destination……. with each summit that i reached there was always a moment of idle satisfaction…. i could reflect over what was accomplished and also stare hard into the unknown future…. yes there were always the deep valleys that i descended into….. and at times it grew dark and i felt lost…… my course felt uncertain…….. so was there always a careful laid out plan…. i think not, but a course i set, and always i seemed to move ahead

Feb 14
it was late last night with a gentle rain still falling that i saw the lights of Ketchikan once again…… a thousand memories does this small town hold…. rainy walks amongst rainy days with a thousand puddles that my boots did play within…. it feels good to be back to my alaskan home…. only the noise from the bars could be heard from the docks that were empty of the thousands of tourist who wander about in search for their alaskan memories…. this gentle winter rain is washing away, for yet another day, the stains left from those crowds…… for tonight the streets belong to those whose songs are heard from the many bars…… and the docks are empty and stand silent and so beautiful without the ships that will come once again with the summer rains…. yes its good to be home once again

Feb 16
the sky is gray and the mountains are blanketed in clouds as the rain continues to fall….. i always wanted to spend a rainy winter day in my Ketchikan and today my dream comes true…… its cold, its damp, untold puddles cover the sidewalks as small playgrounds for the boots of those who wander aimlessly without destination other than a walk in the silent rain…… it’s a day that i find myself sitting in the wheelhouse of the Ballad in my chair just reading and napping as ones sees fit… my morning did have a beautiful walk in this rain as it felt good to be cleansed by this winter rain…… the boats sit idle in the harbors enjoying a winter’s sleep until the rains of spring…. as i let my eyes wander to the many windows overlooking the waterfront, i wonder how many chairs are placed by these windows with hungry eyes that soak in these rainy days….. with a pile of books by my side, a mug of hot tea and wrapped in my blanket i would spend my Ketchikan days throughout the winter…… and today is a beautiful day to let the mind travel through memories and dreams…..

Feb19
my friends have all left….. the crab pots are soaking in the cold tidal current awaiting the crabs… there is noting to do but wait… to watch the days slip slowly by…. the afternoon rains quietly fall while i sit in warmth by a window, my mug of tea and my sleeping bag as my blanket……. finally my dream of spending a winter in Ketchikan has happened…. my book is closed now as i spent the afternoon hours reading and dreaming…… when my eyes grew weary of words i took to my raincoat and walked the rainy streets of this quiet town….. the sidewalks are empty of the summer crowds as i can freely wander at will….. the puddles were all mine to splash through as i walked with no destination in mind…. i treasure the thought of another full day alone in my rainy paradise, with nothing other than reading and walking in the rain before i must head for home…..

Feb 21
with my dream and memories packed in my bags i took my final walk in the rain… a taxi and then a ferry and the rain continued to fall…. i took my wool cap off so i could feel the rain for one last time…. i feel cleansed by this rain… now in a broken silence i awaited my flight but in a way i hope it would never arrive…
and as that jet lifted into the clouds, i looked for one last time at my beloved town of Ketchikan….. and i thought… journeys must all end if only for another dream, for another journey to begin

bittersweet, these days are

my mortality… it stares at me everyday… i often hear, “your life has been blessed, you’ve done so much”… but i am restless, where has my youth gone… often my body says “no i can’t do that anymore”, but my dreams are defiant, i cannot let them rust… my summers in Alaska are bittersweet… i want so much more… will i regret these days passively watching this coast with these mountains drift by… ah, these dreams, are they curses or my tomorrows…

it’s 3 in the morning,
but it could just as well be noon
for my dreams are restless,
restless as this ship drifts
through a maze of time,
are we northbound or southbound
hell, does really doesn’t matter
for this restlessness is devouring me
while i’m chasing dreams…
and of time
well it doesn’t stand still in this void,
no, no it’s stealing my precious years,
time that i need to chase my dreams….
dreams that are taken from memories worn thin
from the many lonely moments…
moments that became my thoughts
thoughts that once again fade into new dreams….
my boots sit tossed in a closet
restless for a path to wander,
they cry to be muddied, and washed in sweat
instead of the dust that slowly covers
a face that also cries for more time….

i regretfully finish yet another book…
i cling to its essence
i cry “why must you end, my friend”..
a book that stirred more dreams than time will allow
and of the books that still await my hands
are they too filled with dreams…
and i ponder
are these books filled with curses
curses rather than dreams…
the curses caused by my fading years,
journeys that will never be taken…
and it’s then that i hear my spirit screams
its restless in these empty hours that pass
and as i sit and watch this canvas painted
painted with mountains that i can’t touch
i can almost feel the tranquility of its forest
being wrapped in that cocoon of green
ah my essence cries in restless desperation….
and time passes slowly by

my summers
yes they are bittersweet
i do love the sea
for as Dana spoke
“nothing will compare with the early breaking of day upon the wide ocean”
i love the taste of the salt in the air
a wind and sea that are alive
but my heart cries as i stand watch
and a coastline silently passes
i want my kayak days back again…
i did not walk this coastline
for it is not a part of my memory of time
and of time
well it’s 3 in the morning
but it could just as well be noon
for my dreams are restless,
restless as this ship drifts
drifts through a maze of time
tess julianna 8/29/16

i just don’t know how to say goodbye

his journey has ended… one never knows when this time must be, it just happens, and all we can do is cry… do my tears make his departure any easier, no… not really… but i like to think that my carpet of tears is just a symbol of the love and bond that was between us…. and what hurts me the most is that i wasn’t by his side to kiss him goodbye and tell him it’s alright, i understood…. i will always regret that i wasn’t there for him, at the time he needed me the most, for he was always there for me…
and i cry, how will my broken heart mend…. i don’t think it ever really does, i think each of my departed companions takes another piece of my heart with them… but that’s alright, as Joshua left me a treasure chest of memories that i can carry with me…..
and when i return home, i will hold his collar and leash, trying to capture his scent, his essence, but it will be gone, only my memory to bring back his essence…
the emptiness of our house, the spot we kept his kennel is empty… his toys, always scattered about, now are gone…. no longer will i look for my missing socks or shoes, always knowing he would have taken them to his pillow…. my hands will miss his touch, he loved his ears rubbed and always a game of “pull” with his now favorite toy… Joshua was our shadow, never far from our side, never out of our sight….. and how i will miss the sound of his name, and with that sound he always came, prancing, waiting for my hand to pet him…
and i cry, i cry because i can’t find the words to express my pain, my aching heart and the realization that he is gone forever… i cry for time that i will never have with him again…. i do anything to have our “tranquility days” back again….. to take our daily walks….. just to have him by my side, please God just one more time…
man’s best friend… they are the perfect example of unconditional love… they give to you so much joy and it hurts like hell when they leave… you swear never again… but could i ever live without their presence

2/14/2014 “written for josie as her journey ended”
how do you say goodbye… is it even possible…. for 16 years she blessed us everyday with her love… she was always there… yet as i look around the house, all her favorite little spots… now they are empty… the house feels empty… i feel empty…. and i hurt….. i would do anything just to feel her one more time….. i wonder will this pain ever go away… do i want it to leave…. no, for then, will i no longer feel her loss
my mind races through memories…. i try to recreate all the joy we had because of her…. i look at her little red bowl…her favorite pillow in her later years, her toys…. emptiness… pain… the house is filled with empty shadows… i’m afraid to call her name because i know only silence will follow
she trusted me…. did i fail her in the end… i have to believe i did what was best for her….. for she gave me everything…. she trusted my love

when we walked away… we left her there lying… she looked so peaceful… she was beautiful…. even though her poor little body showed her age and her fading health… i’ll carry that picture of her always in my heart…
i’ll miss you always Josie…

Josie was the sixth dog that left us…….. they all were special and added to our joy… and each brought their own pain….
i wrote this long ago after i lost Denali, once again his journey was far too short…..

lying on that table
scared
and only a shadow of what once was…
the look you gave
said you didn’t understand
but my touch you trusted
i was there for your pain
but did you understand.

i had to let you go
say good-bye
and walk away
yet i just don’t know how to say good-bye.

our time was short
and my memories are many
yet as i search the house through and through
only to find your fading scent…
and to call your name now
and to hear only an empty echo
a part of me is gone.

i had to let you go
say good-bye
and walk away
yet i just don’t know how to say good-bye.

the days have past and gone
and by my feet he sleeps…
he gently took your shadows place
and touched my sadden heart..
for this was your final gift to me.

i had to let you go
say good-bye
and walk away
yet i just don’t know how to say good-bye.

and i’ll never forgive myself that i wasn’t there for Joshua.. and i don’t even have that final image to carry in my heart
and i curse that i had to let you go,
that i wasn’t there for you
to hold you just one more time
to say good-bye
God, i just don’t know how to say good-bye.
tess julianna 5/30/17

A Prayer to John Muir

i wish i could remember when i first spoke his name or picked up a book filled with his words, but i can’t… i know though that he touched my soul and changed my world, and i guess i slowly became a disciple of his teachings…. slowly his books filled my shelves as i read and reread these books…. in knew Yosemite was his garden and i also knew i eventually would have to experience his world for myself…. my first journey to Yosemite will always be remembered, it was early June and there was still snow in the high country… Yosemite Valley with it’s sheer walls of granite held me in a dream-like world…. after a week in the backcountry i headed down to Yosemite Valley to send a few days before i journeyed home… these words were taken from my journal written during that trip….

a prayer to John Muir.

i like to think it was he who led me down this path……other destinations i had in mind, yet no other would have moved me so, -for upon this path that i did journey a granite boulder with a bronze plaque did i find….”Climb the mountains and get their glad tidings…”hymns of praise that Muir spoke,f from this spot, John built and lived in a cabin for several years…. even though the cabin no longer stands, i’m sure his door and porch faced the falls of Yosemite…. i’ve tried to stand as he would of and admire this creation…. and from my many travels i stood at other places that John had stood, along the hot and dusty trail that boldly descends a canyon… there sits a lonely shelter, he had also taken refuge from the heat of the relentless sun and talked with a friend, yet when i sat there not even his spirit could i feel… yet as i now stood and threw my head upwards to admire the heavenly waters of the falls, i felt john with me… if we now took a walk through his backyard would a tear of happiness or sorrow appear, i wonder…
now the soft valley meadows of his garden have been harden by the paths of man… where there is a conflict between restoration, preservation and development… is the development and restoration for its preservation or is it all just an ugly exploitation… John, this valley that you walked and loved is slowly being torn apart and i fear for it’s future… they all come as we did though, for to admire this creation yet their admiration is of a different beat and slowly the valley changes… but fear not John, for a day’s walk into the woods, and a good day’s walk it must be, one can find your spirit with every voyager who wanders the trails…. stop to feel the bark on a tree…. take the time to count the rings of a fallen tree…. to step around so as not to crush a newly formed flower…. to sit upon the granite and feel the polished surface, the warmth from a hot afternoon sun…. or to feel the silent coolness of the coming of the night… to stand in a silence admire a creek, the pebbles an assortment of colors and shapes that sparkle in the cool and clear bronze waters…. John you would of loved the Merced this time of year, for it ran with such a force and beauty that you could not help but be hypnotize by it’s power…. and John i too sat by the fire at night, like often you did and became absorbed in this display of colors, for the flames were not just oranges and blues but laced with every color of the rainbow… John i sat upon the ground often to do nothing but to feel it’s comfort… i would read and even write of it’s beauty… how many pine cones did i touch, the sap still sticky to the touch… John, Yosemite is still in the back country, and yes it’s well-traveled but the caretakers all are of your spirit, after all John, if not for you our paths may never have crossed in this garden… so as i prepare to leave with the rising sun and though my feelings are mixed as to the pictures that were painted before me in this valley, i’ll choose to remember a distant river that flowed with your wild spirit downward from the snow covered peaks, through canyons carved in granite, cascading yet flowing so proudly…. i’ll see the granite domes with the fading sun setting low in the summer sky… the tall pines reaching upwards to the heavens while fallen warriors are now waiting out their last years….. and that special silent spot…. from where you stood countless times, the magic of Yosemite Falls…. thank you John
jtalarico 6/9/91

Packing for a Journey

the task of packing

the journey, or the trip has now been decided on… a starting point was determined and usually a destination is in mind, although that is usually open for discussion, such as how successful is the trip proceeding, a sudden change in the itinerary ….. yet regardless of the journey, every journey has a task that must be preformed, and most of the time, one dreads this process, but still it must be done…. that is packing for your journey…
depending on your journey, sometimes the packing is very basic, very little thought has to be put into it, while other times your basic survival will depend on whether you packed the required items…. for years i did a lot of ocean kayaking along the coast of California de Sur or what is better known as Baja, Mexico… some trips ran up to 2 weeks long and was along a rather isolated coast with very few villages within walking distance from the shore….. planning exactly how much fresh water would be consumed daily was vital, as one cannot drink salt water…. then how many days before a reliable water source would be encountered….. this determined the amount of water i had to store plus i always brought a little extra for that fresh water shower that i cherished so dearly…. then there may be a hundred mile backpack trip in which i would carry a heavy pack… how many calories of food did i have to consume daily and then how many pounds of food would i have to carry…. could i form several food caches and then these caches would have to be established even before i began the journey…… with a high alpine trip my clothing became crucial, as i had to be prepared for all the possible weather situation…. and the list goes on..

over the years i made this task a little simpler as i accumulated dozens of packing list for various trips and each years these list were modified by either adding or deleting items… i still use many of these list as the needs of some of these trips really hasn’t changed over the years…
but this was the easy part of packing, now comes the hard part… what book or books would accompany me on this journey, and this doesn’t means what books i had on my iPhone….. i’m sorry, when i’m on a journey my hands need the feel, the smell and the comfort of a real book, something that had pages i had to turn and i could fold the corner of pages to mark points i must return to, often at times if necessary, as those words held a special magic to me….
often times the journey will influence the selection of books that are taken… on a two week hike of the Grand Canyon, Colin Flecter’s, A man who Walked trough Time and Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang were chosen….. on a cruise around South America i took Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast and Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle……. often the words of Henry David Thoreau would accompany me just so various pages could be reread again and again, they were marked by folded corners that have been worn over the years…. and my list could go on and on….. if one was to look at the shelves in my library there are small piles of books that were pulled out and waiting for the journey that would include them… and often when i’m browsing the shelves of used books stores, and i love a used book, as it just has a certain feel that a new book has yet to attain….. and often while randomly reading the titles i often find a book that i know who be perfect if i took a given journey, so now that book must find a place in my library……
and of this journey, my bags are slowly being packed… but the hardest task still remains, what books will make this journey with me…

tess julianna 5/3/17

regarding books

they’re everywhere…… stacks and piles, on shelves, coffee tables, and a lot of times in my hands….. i can remember when i was in 6th grade and the mobile book library rolled into Stratford… i bought two books, Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast and Herman Melville’s Billy Budd… i bought them i think because of the  illustrations on the covers…. they sat in book shelves for years… were transported from state to state as we moved… and they moved from one book shelf to another…. i never read them for over 30 years but i knew someday i would and eventually i did… and after reading them i wonder what took me so long….. you see i have a thing about books… i love to have them around… i have shelves of books that i still haven’t read… did i buy them because i knew i would read them or i just wanted them around like a good friend… i just wanted them on shelves because i could always find them in the future …..i love bookstores…. to wander from shelf to shelf, always finding books that i would love to read… how many great books were found this way…. how often now do i go online to find books but problems usually arise which causes more books to be added as i’m usually referred to “other books that people have bought”  and how many great books were found this way…..

our community library, a great library but very seldom will you find me wandering the aisles…. i would rather buy the book, it becomes mine when i buy the book… another friend that i do not have to ever part from…..

while reading a book recently , it was a biography on an individual who even more so than i, always had books in his hands… while reading one book it would lead him towards another book and the pattern would just keep repeating itself….. i find that happening with me a lot of times and slowly the shelves get filled and eventually there are stacks of books in front of the books lining the shelves… books that will be read eventually but what i found interesting was that this individual referred to his books as “his library”….. i never thought of my shelves of books as “my library”… but as i look around my room its actually a library…. i have the shelves filled with books on whales, fish and fish management, my wilderness philosophers, travels and travelers and the list goes on… i guess you could even consider me a “book collector”as i have been known to think that i would love to have this book or that for my collection on let’s say evolutionary processes, maritime history or even biographies… i’m actually very proud of “my library”… look at the titles and you can probably get a good idea of the person i am or definitely the ideas that interest me…

reading an article in Smithsonian magazine, “The Paper Chase” which was about how Robert Fair de Graff changed the way and the amount that people read by introducing an American innovation, the “paperback book”…reducing the cost of reading material but also making books smaller and easier to use…..  add the much earlier invention of the printing press and look at the volumes of books now readily available for us to use and also to fill the shelves of my book cases…. but paperbacks, being much smaller can be stacked in piles on my shelves actually taking up so much less space… good for now i have room for even more books… then add just in the last decade or so the smartphones and ipad-like devices with the app “ibook” i can now download literally thousands of books that i never knew existed and best of all i have a traveling library with me where ever i travel….. recently cruising around Cape Horn in South America i was able to read my favorite chapters from Two Years Before the Mast while following Darwin’s voyage and selecting chapters from Voyage of the Beagle…. these electronic books are great as i have included in my library so many great literary works that i could of never afforded to purchase prior…. the words and thoughts of some of the greatest philosophers are now mine to enjoy or journey with…… and then they didn’t take up any more space on my bookshelves…. but its just not the same as having a hardcover book in your hand… the weight, even a musty smell from a very old friend, and then what do i do with all the bookmarks that i have accumulated through the years….. a favorite photo, a ticket from a museum in Florence, a business card, or all those postcards i collected in my travels…
and all those book sales that i’m drawn to like a magnet……books that were discarded in garage sales…. no longer were their pages handled, corners turned over….. maybe even a thought or comment added…… i love to read footnotes some else took the time to write down, what were their thoughts at that moment…. a bookmark left behind… my eyes always search for even more titles included in the book’s jacket, authors comments, some authors familiar many unheard of…. my hands constantly touching….. soon i look down and my cart or bag may have a dozen or more treasures to be added to my library…. and when i get home and sit in my favorite chair the bag or box of new books on the floor, one by one i slowly explore the adventure or journey they may lead me on… many of these books will sit unread for years but they now have hope that their words will be felt by another set of eager and curious eyes… and now a place must be found for them to spend their days….. i rearrange some books possibly some may need to find a new home….
and i haven’t even begun to discuss all the magazines that i have accumulated and just can’t discard because of an article or two…… but now i just rip out the articles only to have filing cabinets of articles filed to be used or reread later….. i am thankful because at least all this additional reading material hasn’t taken up any more space on the shelves…
i can remember back in the 80’s when researching topics for my degree, the hours i spent looking through periodicals for a given paper….. today i just sit at my desk with my computer and log on to our local library and log into countless data banks to continue researching topics of interest….. i could just electronically file these papers on my computer but usually i will print them out because its that touching and holding the literary work, but once again, i have even more papers to file away….

and finally all those little black journals… all of them handwritten…. thoughts from journeys taken years ago… in them are the lessons i learned from each journey, lessons i carry with me each and everyday’’’’
and finally..remember that old episode on the TV show “The Outer Limits”.. an individual who loved to read and after a world-wide holocaust being the only survivor but happy as a clam as he can read now forever, undisturbed…and then he breaks his glasses… is this why i keep several pairs of readers with me when i travel… in case i break my eyeglasses

i think i’ll sit awhile now and read as another friend await its turn

tess julianna    12/12/13

(a portion of my library)IMG_5895 - 2017-04-23 at 16-30-33.jpg

 

“beginnings”

in some point of time, every journey must have a beginning, and at this point the journey is usually just a vague idea, such as i want to go hike Mt. Rainer or i want to go to Italy….. the journey at this point may be an idea, a hope, a wish or a promise that we can carry with us for years or we put into place immediately… my current journey i carried with me literally my whole life…. …. i remember as a child, i would spin a globe and randomly place my finger at a given place and stop the globe…. where my finger rested was where my journey would take me…. today many of those places are actually alive in my memory as i did journey to those far off places… many of my journeys were due to a book i read…. some books that i read i carried that dream with me for a lifetime…. Two Years Before the Mast, a book i first bought as a young child and i knew i too one day would sail Round the Horn (Cape Horn)…. yes i must admit i did not battle the wind and waves in a small sailboat but instead i was on a Princess cruise i was working…. the size of the boat wasn’t as important as just physically seeing “the Rock” and knowing i was there, that i experienced the thrill and excitement of everyday as that dream materialized….

in the next stage of a Journey, the Journey will start to develop with a starting point and yes a final destination…. the final destination is only the physical end of that journey, as what is gained by that journey we can carry with us for the rest of our life, and now i am not talking about that so called destination but the emotional or mental growth that we found during that journey… that is gained by the day to day experience, not the destination… on my wrist i wear a bracelet, a gift, and on this bracelet is engraved the words “Embrace the Journey”….. with my current journey this is my bible, to embrace everyday, every minute, for i really do not know where this destination will actually be or when i will reach it…. the destination is nothing more than a distraction, i must focus on everyday, every sunrise and sunset, every emotion from every minute….
as an Alaskan Naturalist for Princess Cruises i tell this to every passenger i meet…. do not focus on that destination but embrace everyday of this journey because it’s those memories we will carry with us for the rest of our life… it’s those memories that will bring you back to Alaska again….
my good friend Michael, an incredibly gifted photographer has seen the natural world through the lens of his camera…. his photographs are a testimony to how he embraced every minute of a particular journey… i never saw a photograph of his final destination, as to him that probably just marked and end he probably didn’t want to happen…
remember, your journeys are out there waiting for you… journeys have no boundaries, only the limits of your dreams or imagination… and always remember, “Embrace your Journey”