I try to refrain from writing about the weather. Honestly, what is the point? It is what it is and we live where we live… so whatchagonnado?
I was tempted to post a rant when a blizzard blew through in mid-May, littering our yard with half a foot of fresh snow that put Anchorage’s snow season at a record-breaking 232-day stretch.
Are you kidding me? Is this really my life?
All my beloved friends were scheming relocations to Seattle or Portland, and I feared my little family would be stuck here, alone in the vast wilderness.
On the same day Anchorage broke the snow record, everyone back in Nebraska was lamenting their new heat record: it was over 100 degrees. I had no pity.
But here we are, 11 days later, basking in 70 degree bliss. Everyone in Anchorage is rushing around in a Vitamin D-induced euphoria, frantically soaking up every last ray of sunshine as if it’s the last of the summer. (Sadly, experience has taught us that it very well could be.)
But for now, summer is here. And it is young, fresh, and new.
For me, summer officially started (regardless of weather) last Friday, the final day of school for teachers. Anyone who thinks the kids are excited for summer vacation should see the teachers. My book club (mostly educators) reserved an entire nail salon where we celebrated one master’s degree, one retirement, and everyone else’s first day of summer. We brought in appetizers and drinks, and the owners served us fresh red grapes as we prepared our feet for sandal weather.
The next afternoon Maggie and I had a date with Mary Poppins. A friend had four front-row tickets she couldn’t use, so she gave them to me. I am forever grateful and still trying to properly thank her for such an experience. My friend Nancy and her daughter Lia joined us, and the day was “practically perfect” in every way!
With our cool, late spring Anchorage has been a blah blend of brown and grey, but Mary Poppins was a festive explosion of color on stage. It was as if we walked from a black and white world straight into a 3D Pixar cartoon. It was hard to leave the theater, but everyone was already on their feet for a standing ovation so we waltzed across the street to Humpy’s for dinner and drinks. Not a bad way to re-enter the black and white world.
Next came Sunday. During the school year Sundays are about catch up: finishing laundry, making beds, inspecting homework, signing permission slips, grabbing lunch groceries… I’m sure it all sounds overwhelmingly familiar. But there was no school after this Sunday, so we spent the night around the fire pit in our backyard, making S’mores with the kids and chatting with their neighborhood friends. It was a great reminder of how seldom we just sit and truly listen to our children. When we are available, they really do talk. Endlessly. Sometimes it was random and other times it was pivotal, but either way it’s something we need to do more often.
And then the grand finale of the weekend: we spent Memorial Day on the water with friends in Prince William Sound. The seas were calm, the mountains were spectacular, the baby fish were biting, and the company was impeccable. There aren’t many ways to escape the crowds on Memorial Day weekend, but heading out onto the ocean is one sure way to find a secluded beach to let a puppy run free (not ours) and kids skip rocks (definitely ours). We saw goats, sea otters, whale sprays, jelly fish, and seals. The kids caught a dozen different species of fish and two sea cucumbers, and everything they hauled up was safely released back to the sea.
Oh what a difference a week makes.
As we cruised along my eyes kept misting up, enamored by the scenery as if seeing it for the first time. My jaw was agape and my hand was clasped to my chest, except when it involuntarily pointed at new mountain peeks. It was that incredible.
When I did look away from the mountains, it was to watch my children joyously reel up their little fish. They were enthusiastic jiggers, and ecstatic when a young lingcod or rockfish hit their line. Dad 1 and Dad 2 methodically taught the kids to identify each species based on dorsal fins, anal fins, and chin barbles. It was real-life science.
It’s amazing how a 40 degree temperature swing can bring about a 180 degree attitude adjustment.
I once again saw the Alaska I fell in love with over 15 years ago, with a a renewed appreciation for our clean water, healthy air, and untouchable beauty. I’ve driven the Seward Highway hundreds of times, but on this day the fresh, lime-colored baby leaves were making their first appearance on my left while the highest Cook Inlet tide I’ve ever seen was lapping the highway on my right.
Two weekends ago I was moping. “Are you kidding me? Is this my life?”
But today I can only exclaim, “Are you kidding me! This is my life!”