What a cool trip I had last month visiting with Shannon Cartwright on her property off the railroad north of Talkeetna. She illustrated so many Alaska animal books I read as a child and now read to my own kids. She’s in her late 60s, has lived off the grid for 40 years, and is adorable and tough as nails.

Over dinner the night I stayed there, she told me a great story about how she overcame grief and her physical disability to start drawing seven years after she thought she’d never make art again. I wrote it for this week’s We Alaskans magazine in the Alaska Dispatch News.

Here’s how it starts:

The wolf showed up around Shannon Cartwright’s place in October of 2014. She never saw it, but a neighbor did. That’s how she knew it was black. By then, Cartwright had lived off the grid nearly 40 years. She’d seen about 30 wolves, maybe more.

“This one,” she said, “it wasn’t normal.”

Each morning, she woke in her cabin off the rail line north of Talkeetna and went out with her dog, Coda. Each morning she found new wolf tracks in the snow. With each passing day, the wolf was coming closer to the cabin.

Cartwright, a long-time Alaska children’s book illustrator, was in her mid-60s, and lived alone. Her nearest neighbor was a mile away. Her satellite phone was unreliable. She had a rifle, but it had been years since she was steady enough to shoot it.

Read the rest here.

A scene from her desk:

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