This is a story that has been wanting to be told for quite some time. It is rooted in a trip that my wife and I took to Cold Bay, Alaska years ago. The impetus for the telling was something as simple as opening a book and finding a pair of feathers.
I bought the book at an Anchorage airport bookstore while awaiting our Cold Bay flight. The book, by Nick Jans is about landscape and place and Alaska and wildlife and photography too. Lifelong passions all, they've been an unending source of personal motivation and joy. The feathers were from a ptarmigan, stashed within the covers of this book for safekeeping, only to be discovered years later.
The feathers are a reminder of brown bear trails. Meandering through ceiling high alder thickets. Watching bears fish. The indescribable chill of a brown bears stare. The sight of the Bering Sea. Rain and wind. The definition of green. Volcanoes smoldering in the distance. The trials and tribulations of flying with a dog. The vagaries of ptarmigan cycles. The cliched dime bright silver salmon.
This pair of nondescript feathers. Are a link to a small tundra bird retrieved by a dog now long gone. In a faraway place. Indelibly etched into memory.