By Robert Winfree
Writers' Weir: The House that Gruening Built 011817 AE 1 Capital City Weekly By Robert Winfree

"The House that Gruening Built," by Bob Winfree. Photo by Bob Winfree

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Story last updated at 1/17/2017 - 8:43 pm

Writers' Weir: The House that Gruening Built

The House that Gruening Built


By Robert Winfree


The plaque on the wall had told us, that a statesman built this fine place.

On the mantle lay books about Gruening. In mind’s eye I’m seeing his face.

Here the Governor drafted papers, powerful words of mystery,

for they made Alaska into a state, and for us - that’s now history.

I imagine Ernest holding a pen, while Dorothy sketches the view,

of mountains and sea through bay windows, the same glass that now I gaze through.

The Gruening’s cabin is now used by artists, and with its lands become a State Park,

where artists can stay in the evening, while outdoors it’s cold, wet, and dark.

Sketching on canvas in charcoal, and splashing colors acrylic and oil,

I paint to preserve the sunsets that darkness of night will spoil.

Animals in abundance, everywhere we could see,

There were eagles alighting on branches, and a bear playing behind the next tree.

Tall conifers above well-groomed paths, where red squirrels gathered their cones,

seals frolicking in waves below us, where seabirds picked among stones.

State Park staff friendly and gracious, we now fondly recall,

for they brought us fuel for our fire, drinking water, and all.

Three weeks we spent in that cabin,

another coming, and one back home again.

We’d threaded byways through Alaska - and then through Canada twice,

Reading poems by Service on mountains, and past rivers of glacier ice.

Our chariot brought us home again safely, though damaged and a broken window,

From an accidental meeting in Skagway, and a tumbling rock near Juneau.

Our story is now laid before you, and the artworks hang on a wall,

We give thanks to our hosts in Alaska, who preserve parks to benefit of all.