Friday, April 18, 2008

Lessons from Alaska

Dora at the Exponent Blog is in France. Jealous much? No, I'm just planning to use her experiences when I plan my trip!

She did ask for experiences from other cultures and places. I've never traveled outside the U.S., but I have spent quite a lot of time in one very unusual place.

Lessons from Alaska

For two weeks in September the world is on fire. Birches and cottonwoods blaze yellow. There's a feeling of imminent disaster. It's so beautiful.
Open your eyes.

Sometimes there's a big storm, and everybody is going to be late - they just are, and there's nothing anybody can do, so you might as well relax. And when the forces of nature are this strong, people are going to wear bunny boots to formal events.

You will be so much happier if you just learn to roll with it.

School will not be cancelled unless it is 60 below with ice fog. Go from your heated house to your heated garage, drive to your destination, plug in your car and run like heck before the insides of your nostrils freeze. Do not go out with a wet head. You may end up breaking off a haircicle. Dress for the weather.

Find ways to cope with the day-to-day realities of life.

In the dead of winter if you dare to venture outside, there is enchantment. The only colors of nature on the ground are black and white. The gangly youths among cottonwoods and birches bend under the weight of snow, forming archways over roads and paths. Stunted black spruce in the permafrost take on human characteristics, knobby and twisted and charming. Go out at noonday for a long creep of melded dawn and dusk with muted light in pink and lavender. Go out at midnight and lie down in the snow - ignore the cold - to watch the aurora borealis in green and purple and red, waves and lines of light tripping through a clear, starry, dark sky.

Sometimes it takes bravery and pain to find beautiful moments.

After it has been double digits below zero for five months or so, when the snow is so deep you have had to shovel the roof off to avoid collapse and pulling into your driveway is like driving into a roofless tunnel of ice and dirt, when you think you will die if you don't see the sun soon, when you haven't shaved your legs since September because why bother, then spring comes. Zero degrees is shorts weather. Mud is beautiful. Dandelions are reason to shout for joy.

After bitter, you taste sweet where you never noticed it before.

In the summer, pray you are a student or a teacher or a bum, because there is no time to waste working. Absorb every minute of light and warmth. Early morning is best for blueberry picking or working in your garden. You should pick up a sandwich at the trailer on the corner and eat it sitting at a cable-spool table. Ride your bike along Farmer's Loop in the afternoon. Eat on the patio, vegetables from the garden grown with sun that never stops. Go to the fair, or an outdoor concert, or a backyard party. At midnight, drop your canoe in the river and float as the sun skims the horizon, threatening to set but never having the heart to do it; it was gone for so long.

There is balance in the universe. If you felt forgotten for a while, wait. Bounty is coming.

1 comment:

Crysty said...

This is beautiful, Ana. I'm really glad you have it recorded!