Apr 20, 2012

S is for: Summer

Hiking to Lost Lake in Hatcher Pass
It is just past break-up here in Alaska, which means the snow has gone from my yard, if not the mountains, leaving a brown raft of grass skeletons and a rime of glacier dust behind. The most intrepid trees are just starting to bud, prompting everyone to frown at all the shreds of plastic and trash and dog poop that had been covered up by our five feet of snow. Overhead, millions of snow geese and sandhill cranes and Canadian geese and ducks are returning.  Soon the sparrows will come swooping and hunting like they do each May, bundling their nests in the crease of our roof.

Spring is here. And so is the sun. It rises about six a.m. now, and sets long past 10 p.m. By this time next month, it'll go down along the horizon between two and four a.m. We Alaskans tend to sleep a lot less in the summer, partly because there are much better things to do, and partly because we're like solar panels, absorbing all this energy. Last summer, I averaged around five hours a night.

 I'm a teacher, so summer to me means a mental freedom I don't have the rest of the year. For three months, I can wander through the rooms of my brain without bumping into lesson plans or schedules. And, like the trees and the birds and the salmon and the bears, my imagination goes crazy.

Last summer, I fell into this rabbit hole of story, typing so fast I'd blink and realize hours had passed. Throughout the day, I'd drift back to my laptop like it was a bag of chocolate, stealing moments to write like a guilty binge eater. Even while dipnetting with my son, or hiking Hatcher Pass or picking berries or coaching soccer or watching a baseball game, I had to stop myself from zoning out, from turning inward to plot, rearrange, compose.

Summer: the best time to be an Alaskan. For me, the best time to be a writer.
Mt. McKinley


Krista McLaughlin said...

I always forget that Alaska has different times of sun because of how north they are. That is a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley. I wish I had mountains in summer with snow peaks. All I have is corn in Iowa. Summer really is nice. :)

Grover said...

Wow, I love your description of how hours passed while you wrote. Wish I could experience that!

Suzi said...

I would love to visit Alaska. We have a nephew there, so it'd be fun to go see him.

When is the best time of year to visit? I assume winter isn't it, but what about spring or fall?

Botanist said...

For such a lover of light, the winters must be grim with corresponding hours of darkness.

Just curious, though, how are the bugs up there in summer? We are lucky not to be troubled much by them, but they seem to get worse the further north you go...

Lynn Proctor said...

you deserve the light until 10---i don't think i would survive the winters--beautiful though

icedgurl said...

trekking your blog!!! oh yeah!! a beautiful place to spend a summer!


Nicole said...

I would love to have a summer where I could just write all the time. Gotta figure out how to do that. :)