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Ear Mountain Blooms

Summer festoons the muskeg flanks of upper Sigugu Shaa, Two Ear Mountain. The double peaks dominate Hoonah’s skyline, but the striking view from town doesn’t even hint at the detailed abundance one finds at toe level. Tramping through the mist, at first, I only see olive-drab dwarf blueberry leaves. But near pools of bottomless mud, magenta, sunflower yellow, and royal purple flash. Higher up, soft-needled branches of bell heather crawl along the ground — parting for delicately veined blue-purple petals and glowing balls of pink and lavender.

We think of beautiful places in terms of their iconic vistas. But the very nature of such immense and breathtaking grandeur makes such places feel impersonal and untouchable. Thus we can’t imagine them being destroyed. How do we work for their protection? My friend Mary Beth suggests that the trick is to turn the scene inside out, sifting out the details — the fragile fragments of flower petals, of moss under trees — the pieces that a mere hiking boot can destroy. I hope she’s right. It’s great to imagine that my art, which gives me so much pleasure in the act of creation, might also make people tread with a little more care.

(published in a slightly different form for a social media takeover sponsored by the Sitka Conservation Society @sitkawild, July 2022)


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