Where did this come from, I wondered as I started reading the novel Piano Tide, by Kathleen Dean Moore. How did I not hear about this book before? As I read it, I was back in Pelican, Alaska, a boardwalk only little village reached by boat only, houses lined up above the tide, one bar around which most social life revolved. When I was there, we walked to a small cabin perched in the cove, and even this cabin seemed to appear in the book. There is also a similar bear enclosure in Sitka, where I used to live. How did someone who didn’t live in Southeast nail it? But she did.
There’s something about Alaska that gets in your blood, especially this rain-swept world that seems so far from the rest of the country. I’ve never written anything that came so easily to me as writing about the place. In my current novel, I am struggling way more than I did with Geography. It’s as if certain places weave themselves into your soul, and it becomes impossible not to write about them, the words falling as easiy as rain. I haven’t had it so lucky since.
I’m sure I can relate to Piano Tide so much because I lived it. Maybe others would not feel the same. The other day I was driving home from a meeting, almost two hours of open road, and I searched the radio for something to listen to. My car with its Sirius radio was in Portland, and I was relegated to good old AM/FM. As I scrolled through the religious channels and the Rush Limbaugh, I hit upon the familiar chords of Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd. In an instant I was eighteen and living on a tiny island, walking up to a house where my friends lived, several brothers who became my summer family. They played Pink Floyd all the time, and the music has been indelibly embedded into the memories of that place.
Nothing stays the same; people move on, some move past us to places we can’t go. When we find music or words that can momentarily take us to those places again, it’s something to be treasured.