About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The View From The Rookery

"Sometimes I Sits and Thinks, And Sometimes I Just Sits"
                                                                 Satchel Paige

Today I got up early to pick Miguel up at the airport after his road trip from Prince Rupert, B.C. to Billings, Montana.  It is so good to have him home.

I ran errands later in the morning, first, to the gallery to restock our Christmas cards, and then to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions.

Finally, I treated myself to some quiet time at the Rookery (my favorite coffee shop) for a few minutes to sit and read in my favorite spot by the window.

I found myself distracted by the tourists walking by.  We are over run with tourists this time of year - they come in on huge cruise ships that look like sky scrapers turned sideways, floating down the Gastineau Channel.  By this time of the summer, we are getting tired of dodging them as we attempt to drive down town.  But, they bring a lot of revenue to our little city, and I always remind myself that they are individuals, coming to Alaska for a trip of a lifetime.

The gallery was crowded the other day with visitors - from Germany, England, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and from other parts of the United States.  Often they come in, look around and exclaim: "Ahh, real things!"  They are directed on the ships to shop at the stores owned  by the cruise companies, so when they stumble upon our gallery, they are delighted there there are no items made in China, no t-shirts, no kitsch, just beautiful artwork, photos, and jewelry made by local artists.

Anyway, back to my time at the Rookery today:  I was sitting in my window seat, watching the tourists stop outside the window and peer in (I felt kind of like a zoo animal).  Sometimes they would decide to come in, and I would be treated to their conversations (only if in English or Spanish).  They talked excitedly about what they had seen that day (the Mendenhall Glacier, bears, whales, the hatchery), and what they planned to do later (shop, go back to the ship and rest, hike, visit the museums), and I would smile to myself because they were so happy to be here.

I sometimes think, watching the tourists, that they spend thousands of dollars to come here and see these wonders, when I can see them all the time if I want to.

It definitely is a reminder of how lucky I am to live here, where the waterfalls cascade off the mountains so powerfully that we can stand in our front yard at night and listen to them from across the channel; where it isn't out of the ordinary to be sitting in a restaurant and see a black bear amble up the street after raiding a garbage can; where one can see 20 Bald Eagles at a time, sitting in a tree, checking out the pickings at the landfill; where, in one day, I can have a conversation (if I'm lucky) with people from five or six different countries who are so happy to visit where I live every day.

I only read a chapter of my book, but I was content.


  1. What a beautiful reflection on gratitude! How I would love to visit Alaska one day myself!

  2. I remember quite well the excellent flavored coffee at the Rookery! Yes, you live in a magical place that contrasts so differently with most of the lower 48 states. And it is great that you can reflect and can get a taste of how us tourists see it all in our eyes. You are surrounded by nature and incredible beauty! (Except for the huge boats at the dock, LOL.)

  3. Thank you for sharing this reflection, Paula. So vivid, so detailed; I felt as if I were sitting there with you.


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