Writing the Distance: Ruth Wood

The Covid 19 pandemic is isolating Alaskan writers. We can no longer attend workshops or public readings. The coffee bars where we met with other writers are closed. To bridge these physical gaps, 49 Writers is providing this on-line forum for Alaskans writing the distance. Today, Ruth Wood provides a poem and photograph.

Spring Crust

Spring crust
Those magic words
Excite my skiing friends
Me as well
Until I fell flat on my face
Before I’d gone more than 2 ski lengths
Back to snowshoes or boots
Until later in the day
When my edges can dig in
Just enough that
I can enjoy the ski
Without fear

No matter
Boots, snowshoes, or skis
Below freezing nights
Turn into warm, sunny days
There is no choice
But to be out there

From the backdoor
To all my favorite places
Traveling twice, no three times, as fast
As a month ago
Slow down, enjoy
Go farther and farther
Following tracks
Once a far off glimpse of otter
Sliding into the pond as we drew close

Welcoming returning feathered friends
Hear before we see
Stark white Trumpeter Swans overhead
Golden-Crown Kinglets high in the spruce
Come down calling to check us out
Yellow legs the first of the shore birds
Wade in last year’s fallen sedges
Above the old dam
Mallards in every bit of open water
Sound alarm and flush
And, yesterday, the Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Began to sing

We go out alone
Or together
Or with the pups
Maybe with a friend or two
No more
Come across other friends
Standing on ice along the shore
We visit
Six feet apart
Move on when one sinks into water
Good fortune
The ice shelf below holds up

As we head for home
The snow softens
Oh! it is glorious
This time of spring
Troubles fly away
A brief reprieve, but
Spirits boosted
Strength restored
To stay the course
Self isolate
And wear our masks


Ruth Wood lives in Talkeetna where she volunteers for community activities and works on conservation issues. She started writing last year after taking a local writing class in hopes of restoring the creativity of her youth to avoid becoming dull.

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