The Black Spruce – Alaska Magazine

"Pioneers." Acrylic on canvas by Constance Baltuck. Used with permission of the artist.

Alaska Magazine’s special issue in creative writing includes my essay about heat, illness, the color red, and black spruce. The essay responds to a painting by Juneau artist Constance Baltuck.


To understand the black spruce, remember it grows from a fist-sized root ball as grey and compact and crucial as a brain. Each black spruce spindles itself straight up into the crack of the cold, stout branches making a skyward scrub from base to apex all winter night. And below that brain of roots lies permafrost, even in summer. This, then, is a tree that keeps ice in mind. Full essay here.

Background photo credit: Jeremy Pataky.Fonts: Canada 1500 by Ray Larabie and Adobe Jenson Pro by Robert Slimbach.
This was a Hiya, Scout! design.