By Rosie Preston
My sister Luann, who is almost three years younger than me, has lived in Anchorage, Alaska since 1986. I’ve had the opportunity to visit her three times. You would have to see the mountains to appreciate the true beauty of the part of the country. I found myself unable to stop gazing at the mountains. As an artist, it was a valuable lesson as I studied the shapes, highlights and shadows falling into place in my mind’s eye. Hopefully in the future I can capture that view onto a canvas.
I grew up near Noccalula Falls, which is now on the map for drawing people from all parts of the world to visit. It is an area also surrounded by the mountains, but they cannot compare with the ones in Alaska. Yet, our local mountain has the same effect, as the falls has turned into a vacation place for people to park campers, RVs or a tent for those wishing to “rough it” deeper into the woods.
My family lived two miles away from the Falls on Lay Springs Road when I was around five years old. Our daddy took me and my sisters to wade in Black Creek leading to the falls. We were aware that the river’s personality could turn dangerous if there had been a lot of rain that caused the creek to rise. We knew the landscape above and below the falls from the many times we’d hiked the trails, so we felt confident – foolishly, as it turned out.
After one particularly hard rainstorm, the falls turned into a rushing loud noise that vibrated our ears and made it hard to communicate. During such times, the falls turn into a completely different personality, both attracting and terrifying at the same time.
The legend of the falls is that it was named after a beautiful Indian princess called Noccalula, whose father insisted that she marry a man from a different tribe. Noccalula jumped from the falls to her death instead of marrying a man she did not love. I’ve always tried to imagine how terrible she must have felt to make such a sad choice.
Luann did not have the same fear as I did about wading in Black Creek high above the falls. Fearlessly, she would wade onto the slippery rocks while I watched, just waiting for her to fall. I was ready to rescue Luann if needed, and sure enough, she went down into the water. I stepped into cold creek, trying to avoid landing on my rear end while searching for dry rocks to support me.
I guess you already know we both made it safely out of the creek. As we walked out of the creek, there was a gray snake basking in the sun just a few feet away from us. Thankfully, I had time to make an emergency stop in order to escape the danger of being bitten. As you very well might guess, I’m terrified of snakes. It was one of the many times that I had to take a deep breath, suck in my gut and pray we would survive a situation.Looking back, I enjoyed being a big sister to Luanne, never knowing that the future would bring me two more! I’m sure they all know I will always protect them; that’s a given for me. I once hit a neighborhood bully in the head because he was hurting Luann. As I ran to protect her, an apple was laying in my path. I picked it up and throwing it as hard as I could at the bully boy. Little did the bully boy know that I had good aim from being a pitcher on a softball team. My accurate throw gave us enough time to run home to our mother. I guess you could call that a home run!
Contact Rosie Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.