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Autumnal Abundance

By Marissa Wilson

Last month, Theresa, Katy and I had the gift of sharing space for three days. We called it a staff retreat and collectively committed to truly retreating, many thanks to the generosity of an AMCC supporter who hosted us at her lodging business perched on a spit of land that juts out into the south side of Kachemak Bay. Sunrise warmed the beach to the south, and the sun set on the Chigmit Mountains on the west side of Cook Inlet.

The hours flew by, spent in honest conversation, in kayaks, in a wood-fired hot tub, in gratitude. Interconnectedness was our inexplicit meditation. More than a year into the pandemic that shook the social systems we participate in, we spoke of the things that nourish our lives: salmon streams, music making and other shared riches.

In contrast to that abundance, a proposed component of this dynamic ecosystem threatens it all: Lease Sale 258. In the heart of Cook Inlet, a body of water that mixes Gulf of Alaska waters and glacial river systems with such intensity that the tides are the fourth largest in the world - say nothing of the storms that rip through - an oil and natural gas company with a concerning record of spills is proposing further development.

Paddling under spruce boughs heavy with the bodies of well-fed eagles and over clam beds thick with shells, turning toward the cries of young otters calling for their mothers and of kittiwakes spotting forage fish, we could not bring ourselves to speak of the lease sale and its potential for devastation. We were there to celebrate abundance, not to mourn an event that has not yet come to pass.

Our team's time away from computer and phone screens, immersed in a dynamic part of a seascape we work to protect, was medicinal. It only took a night for us to commit to MacDonald Spit as an annual retreat destination. But I question if retreat is the most accurate term, or if it would be more appropriately described as an immersion - saturation in the forces that bring life to a place called home.

And for that, we are grateful.

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