I kid you not.
Firstly, I apologize for my extended periods of absence. Struck with writer’s block as I still attempt to process the astounding wonder of what happened in India (like, was that actually real?) I have also been struggling to pay off the aforementioned trip by working three jobs while preparing for college and trying to get approximately two hours of exercise a day while still having a social life. Unrealistically ambitious, yet oh-so-American? Perhaps. In any case, the time has finally come to update you on the very unusual events of Memorial Day Weekend 2011.
Weekends at the cabin throughout my life can be generalized as short-term escapes into a sleepy, slowed-down paradise full of fresh air, sparkling turquoise water, quality food and good times with the people there. In addition to my family, my good friend Reid came down for the weekend, and we presumed to spend our time either sleeping, eating, catching up on life stories, or conducting photoshoots (nostalgic at this point, since we have been doing so at least once annually for the past 7 years or so). Really, sleep was the biggest activity this time, as temperatures this early were still a bit too chilly to spend time in the water, and both of us suffered extreme jet lag. Also, I have apparently been promoted from my former status as “boat girl” to “plumber girl”, and spent a considerable amount of time assembling the entire cabin’s water system for the summer. This was greatly amusing to my father, who took pictures.
Finally reunited with my Canon 5D, photoshoots were also high on the priority list, and we were awed by the stunning results of the 3omm lens’s 1.4 aperture. Saturday’s shoot in the island’s forests was intended to capture a very natural, raw feeling, with no makeup or styling whatsoever, and the results (to be featured soon in a separate post) were more than satisfactory. That camera is a legend in itself. The idea behind Sunday’s shoot was initially to create as an extreme a contrast to Saturday’s photos as possible, which we begun by getting as glammed up as is possible on a remote island in the Alaskan wilderness – cocktail dresses, makeup, hair, everything. However, once outside with the camera, we decided to aim the theme towards “Alaska Glam”, incorporating as many classic Alaskan things into the photos as possible while maintaining the glamorous aspect. I don’t know how an objective viewer would interpret the resulting portraits, but to us they’re just kind of hilarious. Not only is the sarcasm definitely there, but who uses themselves as models? (Those who don’t know anyone else, I guess).
So there we were. Dresses on, guns in hand, heading towards the boathouse to find some fishing poles and chainsaws – when BOOM, a gigantic explosion shook the island! Despite never having heard or felt a legitimate explosion before, it was immediately apparent what it was. Everyone standing outside the cabin froze in their tracks, staring wildly across the skyline, searching for the location, and identity, of that earth-shattering sound. Suddenly, a giant column of jet-black smoke began to pour into the sky, rushing from the nearby forest with alarming force.
“I think we’d better change,” said Reid.
This is how our entire cabin party came to spend an entire afternoon fighting a raging house fire on an island in the middle of northern nowhere. By the time I drove the women’s boat up to the beach, unloading buckets, water pumps and hoses, the people’s cabin was nothing but a flaming pile of logs, entirely indistinguishable from its previous form. Flames shot into the sky as trees and tundra alike caught fire, creeping rapidly outwards from the burning house. Every person on the island quickly joined forces as volunteer firefighters, hauling buckets of water from the lake or hoses to the forest, dousing every tree and smoking patch of tundra we could find, running headfirst into the blazing forest in a desperate effort to save the island. Thank goodness for adrenaline – after hours of work, the fire had ceased to spread, the wreckage of the cabin reduced to a pile of smoldering logs.
Talk about a dramatic weekend. In the true spirit of Alaska, everyone just smiles when they talk about the fire and happily exclaim, “Nobody died!” Really, that’s all that matters, and we got our first experience fighting fires. One to add to the book – along with the plane crash of August 2005 and the epic boat wreck rescue of 2009, summers at the cabin continue to be full of adventure and near-death experiences. Yet everyone continues to survive.