Monday, October 4, 2010

Alaska: The Great Bear's Cub

This is a picture I took last May when we took a trip up to the MatSu valley in Alaska. This is an old mine (The Independence Mine) on a back road near Wasilla)
I recently picked up an old book in town, called Alaska: The Great Bear's Cub, by Mary Lee Davis. I didn't know what to expect, but I love Alaska, and knew I'd enjoy reading more about this majestic state, and knew I'd like to have the old book, dated 1930, in my collection.

I have read a couple of chapters so far, difficult to do since the pages are loose and easily fall out. But what a wonderful read! Here's a couple of quotes I like:

It's young hearts for adventure, and the hard work that always waits on true adventure but which is afterward forgotten. Of course, I was rather young myself when I first went to Alaska. Yet even now I can say truly (and this is in the nature of a confession!) I've seldom seen a real grown-up, even in my own mirror...

...Only those who have far-sighted eyes, only those with forward-looking faces, only those whose feet itch for the touch of trails unblazed and soil unbroken, will glory in The North...

...If you know bears, then you will understand the mettle of Alaska. Alaska is an unlicked bear cub, young and half-grown and wild yet, though in first cubhood the Russians put an iron ring in his nose and made him dance to a rough music.

At the end of one chapter, Davis quotes a verse from Robert Service's "Spell of the Yukon:"

Walk lightly,

Hands upon your eyes;

For he who looks on wild earth once

Looks until he dies.

Another book I recommend for readers who are hungry for words of the West in a novel that is hard to put down is called "The Last Cowgirl" by Jana Richman. This one reeks of the West, the good and pleasant odors and the stenches that we like to deny exist. The title doesn't do justice to the book, for I was afraid it would be a book about a drugstore cowgirl in short skirts, short boots, tops that have been worked over with a BeDazzler and make-up that wouldn't last past the first drop of sweat that inevitably cascades down from the brow beneath that Ralph Lauren hat.

Happily, I was wrong. The writing in this book touches the soul someplace deep and sometimes dark. I know if you like good, well-crafted writing, you will like this book. Look it up on Amazon and check out the used book prices. It'll be worth it. One caveat: there are a few obscene words in the book, not enough to detract from the story, but if that sort of thing bothers you, don't pick this one up.