Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Write your name in the land

I was awake at 5 this morning, a little earlier than planned but what can you do. I lay in bed for a while trying to go back to sleep and thinking about spring. And then I thought about summer, and then I thought about cloudy days, then frost, and winter. Then I had an epiphany. I live in the freaking arctic. Well technically the Arctic Circle is around 125 miles north of here, but close enough. And then the thought: Why do we live here?

I'm glad I asked. I actually have a great answer for this after being here for 30 years. It's good to remember when confronted with the hassles of living in this climate. Here's a partial list of pros:

1. My husband. He lives here. That would seem obvious but I have a thing where I really like being where he is.
2. My family and friends. Including my daughter I currently have five relatives that live here with me and countless dear friends that are "Alaskan Family".
3. Appreciation. When you have the contrast that we do, -60 F* in the winter and up to 90 F* in the summer, you really appreciate things like green leaves on trees and grass on the ground and sun on your face and birds singing, etc. Summer is like a high for me. It's only three months long but who ever heard of a three-month long high.
4. Repeating traditions. I've only ever had one Christmas that wasn't white, and that was in California. It's really, really pretty. Just last night my daughter and I played in the giant icy puddle on our street, and she fell in and cried, just like every other kid growing up in Alaska does at this time of year. It's fun watching her experience the things I did when I was a kid.
5. The sky. I've been to a lot of different places, and the sky looks completely different here, and amazing. When I am not here I get lonely for the way it looks.

Yes I could see picking up roots and moving to a warmer place somewhere along the line, we like Costa Rica a lot... could you imagine eating locally grown mangos on a regular basis? But for now when things get tough, it's dark and cold, or wildfires have filled my valley with smoke, I just remember to write my name in the land. Remember Skylark, the sequel to Sarah Plain and Tall? "You don't have to love this land," said Maggie. "But if you don't love it, you won't survive. Jacob's right. You have to write your name in the land to live here."

You can't spend all your time daydreaming of other places. You must embrace it. And if necessary get out there with an actual stick and write your name in the actual land. When the snow melts, of course.

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