This essay of creative nonfiction, which I called Unexpected Rewards, was written as an assignment for my first journalism class, Magazine Article Writing, taught by Lael Morgan. It was inspired when I was reading through a copy of The Writer’s Market and saw the writer’s guidelines for submissions to Alaska Magazine. The word nostalgia somehow brought Christmas trees to mind, and I wrote this… I was thrilled when it was accepted by Alaska Magazine in the fall of 1996 for their December / January issue.
I was also enchanted by the work of Alaskan Artist James Havens, how he captured the elements of the story—moose, chickadees and scraggly spruce trees in a maze of willows, surrounded by a garland of popcorn and cranberries. I’d had a few feature articles published by then, a few where photographs were contributed by another photographer, but this was … different, to have someone understand something I had written enough to illustrate it so perfectly, even down to the details of the birch bark and footprints in the snow. Check out his other very impressive work and current projects at: https://www.facebook.com/james.havens.585