Packing List (Erica)

photo credit: Erica L. Bartlett

photo credit: Erica L. Bartlett


Going to Alaska,

I have a long list

of things to pack,

practical realities

of venturing into

a colder wilderness:

rain gear, warm layers,

winter hat, gloves,

camera, binoculars, and more.


But even more important

are the intangibles

that are harder

to remember

because I can’t

put my hands on them.





A sense of adventure.

Openness to beauty.


Without these,

all the outer gear

is worthless,

so much deadweight

keeping me mired

in the daily life

I am trying

to leave behind.

But if I bring everything,

once here,

my opportunities

are limitless.


To venture into

places unknown

unfettered by weather

that at home

would keep me

curled on the couch.

To empty myself

of expectation,

of life’s wearing routine,

and be filled


inspired to awe

by the muscular mountains

shouldering up

to the horizon.


by the enthusiastic soaring

of gulls, eagles, ravens

carried far above

by the buffeting wind.


by the cheerful colors

and clowning behavior

of puffins

and rolling sea otters.


by the unexpected glimpse

of rainbows,

a fairy-house

of tiny alabaster mushrooms

in damp leaves,

the delicate blue veins

of a glacier,

a crimson wave

of tundra foliage

on the hillside.


I take these

new intangibles


carefully packed

in heart and memory,

ready to pull out,

to renew me again,

and remind me

to look for wonder

and adventure

on every step

of my journey.

- by: Erica L. Bartlett

Aram Mitchell

Renewal in the Wilderness, 20 Roberts Street, Falmouth, ME, 04105