I’m gliding across still glacial blue water in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. In the distance snow-covered peaks are etched against a mottled sky. Gulls are soaring, then skimming near the water looking for food. Every few minutes a salmon jumps from the icy water then dives back in, giving the gulls hope.
It’s beautiful but it becomes truly spectacular when I plugin my earpieces and shuffle through my favorite songs. It’s been a long time since I listened to music but I still remember all the words — and all the drum beats — of the familiar tunes.
I rarely escape into music anymore, especially when I am in nature. In the wilderness I want to hear the bird calls, listen for a cracking branch that could signal a predator.
On the ferry I felt protected as the hum of the engine lulled my brain. I put my headsets on and the world is transformed into a soaring, pulsating oneness.
The gentle strum of the guitar dips and surges with the ocean waves, reaching a crescendo as a pod of dall porpoises speed through the waters beside us, playful but serious in pursuit of a tasty meal.
In the water, chunks of ice from the Columbia Icefield float by, a bleak reminder of the rapidly warming earth. Some are white, some glacial blue, and all are fascinating in their cold beauty. I am mesmerized, a tourist on the eve of the apocalypse.
Across the blue water the wispy white waterspout of a submerged whale breaks the surface calm.
A sea otter floats by on its back, basking in the sun.
And still the music accompanies me. A woman’s voice, clear and young, sails with the gulls as they ride the wind, full of grace now.
This bird is sailing, all other motion suspended, providing me a moment to reflect.
I am floating with the bird, weightless, when I feel the pressure of tears forming in my eyes.
I had forgotten how music can create the perfect backdrop for nature and I want to join it, spread my arms to stay steady and ride the wind, too.
All photos by the author except the seagull.