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Green Tea (Part 5)

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I used it as a pitcher to water my Christmas tree, until I came to work for you, Gil. For the past few years, I haven’t spent enough time at home through the holidays to warrant a tree that needs water. You don’t keep a schedule during that time, but you have to be ready for each new year. You speak, you teach, you travel according to the master list I compile. Christmas time last year—alone here in the office, I sent you to Cairo and Alexandria for March. I re-organized the sculpture file labeled ‘Heads; Broken’ and cross-referenced it with ‘Limbs; Missing.’ I found a florist who would deliver parrot tulips to an ambassador’s daughter in Calcutta.  She, I gather, was the Shelli of Christmas Past.

The kettle hisses as the flame licks up underneath it. I don’t remember putting it on the stove, but awareness is not a prerequisite to boiling water. I lean beside the stove with my elbows on the counter. Leo jumps up to join me, rubbing his head against my chin. Leo, why is it that the men in my life—you and Gil—only need me because I have opposable thumbs? Gil finds my typing and filing and organizing to be of value to him, and you need me to operate the can opener and work the door handle that lets you come and go.

I put an inch of nearly-boiling water into the tea pot. No chipped enamel here—one of your admirers sent you a Japanese iron pot with a feathery pine needle pattern gracing its moon-shaped sides. A pot that was old when this country was new, and you call for it as casually as if it were of no value. I spoon green tea into the ceramic filter built into the pot—the Japanese have always known how to build a better product, it seems.

Tiny white jasmine flowers curl among the green leaves of the tea, shut in upon themselves until the water makes them bloom again. Out with the warming water, in with a fresh, furious boil that releases a cloud of steam. The kettle whimpers a little as I set it on a back burner. The kitchen smells green as the magic of tea begins.


Way Up North To Alaska (Anchorage)

So, having arrived in Anchorage, we set out to explore the city:

View of downtown Anchorage across Cook Inlet; Chugach Range in background

 It’s a beautiful city, and about half of the state’s 600,000 residents live there. It was the end of the tourist season, but still warm (light jacket weather) and full of bright flowers, pocket parks, and interesting “stuff” like this vibrant mural on the side of the Kobuk Coffee building:

Kobuk Coffee's teapot mural

Anchorage pocket park full of flowers

My sister and I visited Title Wave Books (largest independent bookstore in Alaska, a variety of the requisite souvenir shops, and grabbed a slice at Uncle Joe’s Pizzeria at 428 G Street.

Me with life-sized stuffed moose

 while my BIL went to the Alaska Trooper Museum.


Alaska Trooper Museum

We watched cruise ship passengers leaving on the observation train for Denali,  saw the memorial to Alaska’s statehood, and this sign outside a local bar:

Amusing sign at The Shed

The Glacier Brewhouse was recommended as a great place for dinner, but we didn’t have reservations and it turned out to be a 2-hour wait (the cruise ships send passengers there, too). Ended up at Phyllis’s Cafe & Salmon Bake and had some great seafood, including that day’s fresh-caught silver salmon special.

Phyllis's Cafe & Salmon Bake

Drove to Earthquake Park after dinner (it was still light until almost 10:00 p.m.) and walked through the displays about the 9.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Alaska on Good Friday in 1964. Fascinating history, and pretty scary to see the level of destruction that occured there. You can still see evidence of the damage today.

Looking at an exhibit in Earthquake Park

We headed back to the hotel after that to get ready for the next day’s adventure–the drive to Denali National Park!