Monday, October 01, 2007

A Thousand Shades of Green

Wow, what a great Bouchercon! I returned home to Hawai‘i yesterday from mystery writer’s nirvana. My first wonderful Alaska experience began two days before the conference, when I was picked up at the airport to prepare for a day of teaching at Eagle River Elementary School. Eagle River, a fairly suburban area (for Alaska), is about fifteen miles from Anchorage.
Joan Anderson, a retired teacher, met me at the airport and took me to meet my hostess, Susan Brusehaber, at whose home I would be staying. Susan not only welcomed me with warm hospitality, she prepared a delicious dinner and a delightful evening with her husband Don, and Joan and her husband, Paul. I could go on about the great food, the company, and an evening of new friendship and laughter, but what I really want to tell you about is Susan’s slice of Alaska, a land of mountains and jaw-dropping extremes.
Susan and Don have constructed a haven where fairies surely dwell. Their thirty-five acres on the banks of the Eagle River is a sanctuary of peace and almost mystical beauty. Susan believes in fairies and I assure you, if they exist, they’re at Susan’s home, living in harmony with the other creatures that thrive in that fertile, green forest of lush ferns, toadstools, towering trees, tiny lichens, and a thousand shades of green.
Susan loves to garden, and she dashed out to the garden and her greenhouse for the broccoli, tomatoes, tarragon, leeks and onions she used to prepare dinner. I’m not sure where the salmon came from, but if someone told me they were lured by the fairies to leap onto the banks of the rushing opaque waters of the glacial river, I’d believe it.
If we ever figure out how to post pictures on this blog, I’ll upload photos, because Don and Susan took an old log cabin and expanded it with loving hands. Don is a magician with wood. Two graceful spiral staircases, each step lovingly carved and edged, a lighthouse with a widow’s walk overlooking the river, rooms lined with shelved books, antiques, heirlooms, and seasonal treats (I tried to keep from decimating the bowls of chocolates that were in nearly every room), and a fire in the old wood-burning stove welcome guests to the sanctuary. Don has an extensive wood shop, and all rooms in the house provide a view of either the river or the forest, where leaf-cushioned paths weave past lichen-covered wood benches and underground-fed streams.
What a privilege to have been a guest in this magical place, where visitors are greeted from far and wide.

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