This is our sixth year of boating in Prince William Sound, Alaska. For my youngest, this is all she's ever known. My son's Scandinavian name, Pelle, is our variation on the word "pelagic."
We are terrible fishermen and never catch a thing.
But we've found some things.
We found that when an eight-year-old boy stands at the terminus of a glacial stream surveying the styrofoam situation and tells you his "heart is breaking for all the animals," you'd better believe him.
And you'd better rise to the occasion -- as an adult with an industrial grade Hefty sack -- to help him do something about it.
Even though you didn't make that mess,
even though it isn't fair that you're cleaning it up,
we've found that somebody still needs to do the work.
And small hands count.
We found the insurmountable,
and reluctantly agreed to abandon it for someone else.
And found that there would be another seemingly insurmountable task yet to come,
and that the bigger stronger person was in fact, in our midst.
We found consensus in the term "seal killer"
and "poison meal."
And we're all in agreement that the styrofoam packing peanut is the worst thing ever invented. Ever.
Some of us sought and found risk,
We found new things, dammit, that we now have to be afraid of finding,
and things that weren't so interesting before, but suddenly are now.
We found that one could speculate all day,
but in the end,
it's best to just believe in the presence of fairies
and in aliens who need to be obliterated by laser beams.
We found that we can leave a place better than the way we discovered it.
And if we pour enough of our hearts into something, the most humble of gifts will feel like a great reward.
On this particular weekend, we hauled nearly 400 pounds of net, rope, garbage and beach-sorted recycling out of the Sound. If we did this every weekend for our entire lives, it still wouldn't make a dent in the thousands of miles of exposed Alaskan shoreline ... much of it remote and inaccessible. And it keeps coming -- the Pacific Gyre keeps spitting debris our way, Tsunami detritus is slowly entering these waters. But the thing that is changing is the way my children see the world -- I hear them screaming up and down the beach and into the shoreline woods: "Mama! Wait till you see what I FOUND!"
They are lookers, seekers, doers. Askers of the painful questions.
The living questions, like, "Wait ... don't we burn diesel to get out here?"
Crap. Yes, yes we do.
And while I don't have the solution to the larger problem, I do have a garbage sack ready for the one right in front of us.
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Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.