Petersburg, Alaska #6

Light and Shadow

by Katie Sobalsky, SCA Intern

Working in the same forest day in and day out allows me to take notice of its subtle changes and differences. Initial and quick glances give the impression of a land covered in green, and although this is a reasonable observation, closer inspection reveals the vastness in shades and tones of green. Dark brown-green moss clings to branches of Hemlocks and Spruces, while lying in patches below are the gigantic lime-green leaves of skunk cabbage.

But what truly awes me even more than the vast varieties of green is how they change once again depending on the light. This past hitch it remained overcast for a majority of the time. Yet for brief moments when the sunshine emerged from the clouds, the forest suddenly exploded into an entirely new land, sparkling and glowing, emanating a freshness and vitality that had previously been cloaked in a grayish hue of dimness.

The light trickling through the canopy provides a stark contrast of light and shadow so potent that I often times have to put down my Pulaski and simply stare out. I remember one short and passing moment very distinctly of watching a Sitka Spruce change colors before my eyes. When the sun broke free and the light came running into the forest, the tree was suddenly split in half, one side of the enormous trunk shrouded in darkness, while the other half appeared to be glowing from within, the sunlight accentuating the reddish hue of the bark. Slowly, as the sun moved once again to its position behind clouds, the shadow side grew and grew until once again the entire tree was covered in a dusky hue.

These small things are hard to observe on your normal hike up and down the mountain, and of which I am grateful to have had the opportunity to notice.