My childhood was spent with my parents and siblings in this tiny dot on our world map called Sitka, Alaska. I will have to admit that I painfully miss the freezing temperatures, the snowy landscapes, our small but warm red brick house and our chubby ginger cat named Honey. I never felt so attached to our house in Sitka as I do now that I do not live there anymore. Turns out it is true what they say about not valuing something until losing it.
I remember that my father was a wonderful storyteller. He would come home from the ocean late, tired and filled with new stories to share with us in the light of a cozy fireplace. He would tell me and my twin sisters about the times he saw a killer whale couple in love and the times when he was invited to a beluga whale opera.
One peaceful August weekend I found myself in dad’s boat, holding an old fishing net between my red mittens. We were about to go blue whale watching because me and my sisters had been begging for it for a long time. I was sitting in the middle of this tiny boat made out of dark brown damp wood. The boat was small, so we were all sitting quite close to each other.
Today the surface of the North Pacific Ocean was so peaceful that you could almost see your reflection in the dark crystal clear water. As we sailed through the Gulf of Alaska I felt empowered and inspired. How can a boat this small float so bravely on water that would freeze people sitting in it to death? Probably it does not matter, if you are surrounded by freezing water as long as you are not letting it get inside of you.
On the edges of the mirrorlike surface there were high mountain peaks coated with white snow. Towards the ground, slopes were smoothly changing their colours into wine red maple leaves. The sky was painted in pastel blue and it was partly covered with soft marshmallow clouds. Never in my lifetime have I seen an August as beautiful as in Alaska!
“Look, look!” I felt my sister Tanya pulling the sleeve of my thick fall jacket. I quickly turned my head. Was I about to see the blue whale that the whole of Sitka was so excited about? The moment I turned around I experienced this feeling of amazement that you get in your stomach while riding a rollercoaster in a very wild amusement park. In about one hundred meter distance from our boat I saw the silhouette of a blue whale.
Autumn air was so quiet that I could hear what my quickly beating heart was trying to tell me.
The whale was peacefully looking at us as we slowly paddled our boat towards him. His sizes were even more enormous than I expected.
The blue whale seemed to clearly enjoy our company, he was swimming around our boat. My dad whispered to my left ear, “Usually whales come to greet me in groups, this one, however, seems to be a loner.”
The whale was waving to us with his wide, dark blue tail and jumping out of the water making huge splashes. It looked like he was in the middle of a performance to an excited audience. I wondered if this ocean was just too little for him. What if he was just a blue whale in an ocean too small and his attempts to jump out of the water were his attempts to actually spread his imaginary wings and fly far away?
“Let’s name him Martin,” I suggested, breaking the shocked silence as we were paddling back home. I told myself that never in my lifetime will I underestimate the power and beauty of nature that surrounds us!