We are now at that place, mid-winter. We have had some major snow storms. We have had winds that have literally made my eyeballs hurt when I have walked outside. It was -21 on our back deck and with the wind chill, we set a record for -51! Good heavens. (I know it is not as bad as a friend I have in the UP of Michigan. They get SNOW. They make us look like wimps. And this is Alaska! LOL). The sight above is about 10 miles south of where we live, and one of my husband’s favorite places to fish. That look is accomplished with sub zero freezes. And it is so glorious! I truly love the look of a deep freeze. It makes grocery shopping and pumping gas a little tricky! We have not really suffered too much, to be honest. But we are getting weary of the cold, Alaskan winter! People are all talking about how many more hours of sunshine we get everyday!
You have to be different to live in environments that do not have sunshine and roses all year long. Especially when daylight is limited, or in over-abundance! My life, until well into my fifties, was spent in sunny Southern California. I grew up close enough to the beach to walk to it, when I was a child. We slowly moved inland and south. But the beach was never too far away. In my teens we could take the “Beach Bus” down to the shoreline daily for $5 round trip. Something that we took for granted. My grandparents had a house up on a hillside in Englewood. You could smell the ocean on clear, sunny, breezy days of summer. They never needed an air conditioner. We would just open the windows and the breeze cooled us off. And there was always their swimming pool! Paradise to a kid! But somehow, it was not enough. Green, wild, mountains, nature was always calling to me. Ironically, when I got my first job, I signed up to give a portion of my income to “Save the Whales” complete with bumper sticker and coffee mug. I’d get regular reports from Alaska. I was 16. Who knew?
And although a Pacific Paradise was fun to grow up in, it just never fit me. I have so many friends who cannot ever imagine the climate in Alaska. Their bones would ache; they would hate the dark and the cold. I get that. My mom grew up in New Zealand and I was always drawn to how green it was. She often commented, “And it rains all the time! You have to pay for that green somehow.” And I often relate that to the summers here in Alaska. They are glorious. And we get them from all the water we get during the winter, in the form of snow. So when we are up to our knee caps in snow, I try to think of the summers.
And we live for summer. LOL. The sun is up for hours upon hours – so many hours that we have black-out shades and curtains. Our plants grow insanely large. Have you heard about the State Fair here in Palmer every year? They have pumpkins that weigh thousands of pounds or 30-lb cabbages. I kid you not. I have started growing Dahlias and I am so hooked on their complicated, and sometimes very simple, beauty.
There is the Tartan on the left, and the Richard’s on the right. Those are just two examples of some amazing Dahlias. I love the variety that is all things Dahlia. You get the tubers, which are labeled, but the surprise comes when they bloom. The labels quite often are wrong!
All of this is helping me work through the season. The dark side is winter; the light side is summer. But together it is our full year. Up here we have very short springs and falls. The longest sections are the most extreme. And funnily enough, it is a template for our lives, too. I have spent the longest portions of my life in extremes; extremes in weather, in faith, in life. And this portion is by far my favorite. I can breathe. I can relax. I can focus. Just visiting my old stomping grounds gives me stress! I realized, as soon as we pulled up to our new home (7 years ago) that I was home. It took me 56 years to find it. My prayer for you is you find your spot, too. Sometimes we compromise for the wrong reasons. My husband and I always wanted to leave California, but stayed for so many reasons. Once we chose to leave, it was so hard, but at the same time, the right decision. A long time coming, but for us, perfect. And when you realize you are where you belong, the pieces all fall into place. But don’t forget, you are who you are!!!