Entry 1


With its vast size and biome diversity, Alaska offers bountiful and grandiose landscapes.  Scene is one of the fundamental elements in writing.  No matter what genre, scene helps to materialize the imagery necessary for the setting.  One of the key factors which draw interest to Alaska; from artists, hunters, conversationalist, entrepreneurs, and other walks of life, is the land with its beauty and resources.  Scenery breathes life into a landscape and helps evoke reader’s senses.
Gastineau Peak Vista,  Juneau, AK.  Murphy 2006
In Rex Beach’s story A New Crisis Beach writes of Cortez, a fictitious town.  Though fictional, Beach’s use of scenery helps to create a very realistic image of an Alaskan landscape: 
“Against it the soaring mountain peaks stood out as if carved from new ivory.  The glaciers to right and left were mute and motionless in the grip of that force which alone had power to check them; the turbulent river was hidden beneath a case-hardened armor; the lake, with its weird flotilla of revolving bergs, was matted with a broad expanse of white, across the meandered dim sled and snow-shoe trails.[1]         

S. Lynn Canal peeking through the trees.  Juneau, AK. Murphy 2009
Margaret E. Murie’s non-fictional excerpt from Two in the Far North exposes the landscape, on the approach to Skagway in the Lynn Canal.  “Skagway nestled into the delta fan at a mouth of a canyon, embraced on three sides by steep wooded slopes.  In front, the very blue waters of the Lynn Canal…’[2]  Making this same voyage many times during my life, Murie’s description put me back onto the deck of the ferry gazing at the landscape depicted, as the ferry approached the port of Skagway.  Whether subtle or detailed I feel some description of landscape should be addressed when writing involves a location. 


In Summer Light by Elyse Guttenbert, an immediate portrait of a coastal Alaskan scene is created.  “Where the wind had bent a row of seagrass into hoops and a trail of flecked white boulders pointed out a line between the tundra and the sea.’ “The air was sharp though the wind had settled and it was early-the sun had not yet warmed enough to melt the morning frost…’ “To one side lay the endless sea, dark water, white tipped waves showing where the fog had rolled itself away.’[3]  All of these landscape descriptors let us join Elik on her morning walk to gather wood along the coast of the tundra.


Identifying nature as a resource helps to separate us from the natural world.  How many people using a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil contemplate the tree that the wood was harvested from or the earth that the graphite was mined from?  Whether you live a life of subsistence or a convenience based lifestyle, either way, people are dependent on the natural world.  We can think about our role in nature from a biological stand point, where each species have consumers, producers, decomposers, and scavengers.  Humans are consumers, in that we rely on other organisms to make food for our bodies.  Humans are simply dependent beings.  For me, it is important to respect and appreciate the natural world, since there is only one planet Earth.  Through the use of various mediums, we can only make people more aware of nature.  It is up to each of us to be responsible for our habits and dependency on the natural world.  


[1] Wayne Mergler, Last New Land: Stories of Alaska Past and Present (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest, 1996), 82.
[2] Wayne Mergler, Last New Land: Stories of Alaska Past and Present (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest, 1996), 94.
[3] Wayne Mergler, Last New Land: Stories of Alaska Past and Present (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest, 1996), 18.

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