I am in the Sitka library not talking to the Center's co-founder Frank Boyden. We are not talking because Frank has dropped off mid-sentence, his eye enraptured by something outside.
"You have to forgive me," he apologizes without moving, his gaze still fixed on a beguiling vision somewhere above my right shoulder. I turn my head slowly to avoid startling the woodpecker, or the lunar moth or whatever it is that has Frank transfixed.
"Oh, you can't see it from there," Frank explains. "What I'm looking at only exists from over here. This happens to me all the time. I see shapes in the trees."
I rise and step behind my new mentor, crouching to align my sightline with his. My hands rest on the tops of my bent knees the same way they did the first time my father invited me to look through a telescope at the night sky.
"See there, Alison? There's a trapezoid that looks like it's floating. It's really cool, man."
A configuration of four lichen-laced branches, each owned by a different tree but illuminated by a unifying light, forms a hovering shape like a second story bay window under the winter canopy. I imagine the fledgling Darling children, airborne in their nursery, about to take Pan up on his invitation and trade bedtime routine for lagoon adventure.
For the creative process, place-based experiences are essential, through which we remove ourselves from the day to day and put ourselves in fresh surrounds. When this place is one of tremendous natural beauty and power-as Sitka is-we are more likely to let our ideas and imaginations roam undomesticated.
The hovering trapezoid is still there. A recent wind storm altered its shape, but it is still visible if you crouch in the right place. I tried to take a photo to include here, but the light wasn't the same. Frank is right: you can't see it from there. It only exists from over here.
Whether you plan to visit the Sitka Center in 2019 or simply resolve to look out a familiar window with fresh eyes, may your New Year be filled with creativity and wonder.