Nov 18, 2012

The winter people

We moved to Alaska eight winters ago, partly in search of a place where snow wouldn't melt irritatingly frequently, and partly to get away from the crowds in the Lower 48.

At Reflection Lake

It didn't take long to discover that most of us up here thought the same thing. We LOVE winter. We're not too fond of...well, lots of people. Or most people. Some of us don't like people at all, which is fine. There's lots of room to be by yourself.

There's lots of room to BE yourself. One example is the guy who stands at the main intersection of my town, holding a hand written sign that reads: LAROUCHE SAYS: IMPEACH OBAMA. Obama's face has a Hitler moustache on it. On the guy's camper is written: don't feed the old hippies! (No idea what that means.)

During hunting season, it's not uncommon to pass a pick up truck pulling a trailer of snow machines with gun racks and a blood-stained game bag containing a dismembered moose. When it's mushing season, you can park next to a dog wagon full of racing dogs at Walmart. In the summer, people stop to buy fish eggs wearing waders, boots and camoflage because it's too much work to take it all off on the way to the river to fish.

It's not propaganda to say that Alaska is a home for rugged individualists. It's also a breeding ground for conflicted idealism, a lot of hype, a few crazies and a little hypocrisy. But as far as the land is the home for winter people. And it is so beautiful, you'll have trouble believing it's real.

I just finished my MS, RUNNING WITH WOLVES. It is set in Alaska, which is also a huge character in the novel. The more time I spent writing it and considering what and who to include in the plot, the more I fell in love with my adopted home state. It is an unusual, spectacular, frustrating place to live and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I live here because I choose to. And this Thanksgiving week, one of the many blessings I'm thankful for is being an Alaskan.

How about you? Did you choose where you live, or did you fall into it? And how does that impact your sense of place in your writing?

In Juneau on the Inside Passage

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Elizabeth Seckman said...

Love it! I moved to WV when I was days old and in my early adulthood, I wanted to get out. Now, I love my state. It's a beautiful place. It's also the kind of place where communities rally to help their own and you never have to have AAA because a good old boy will always come along and help out.

Suzi said...

I love where I live for many reason. All four season. The people. Feeling safe (lower crime.) No big city traffic problems and commutes. It's big enough to offer choices on things to do, but not too big.

I'll even put up with the wind and cold winters, because ND is a good place to be.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

That's so funny, I did a blog post/photo essay today about why I love where I live. I definitely chose the Sierra foothills, after stumbling into the Sacramento area.

Plus, it means so much more that I chose here because we moved around constantly as a kid (longest we stayed was 14 months), when I didn't have a say in it.

Nicole said...

That was an awesome snapshot of Alaska! I've never been, but I hope to get there one day and you've made me look forward to it even more.

Carrie Butler said...

You should write a visiting guide! :)

I was born in Ohio, and I've lived in three cities, but I haven't left yet. (No plans to, either!)

Emily R. King said...

Beautiful post, Melodie. You're such a fine writer.

I was born on an island and now live on another island. Although it's connected by a bridge, I love the island life. It's a bit slower than the mainland, and it smells better than the mainland too. :)

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

It's funny, I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how you were enjoying your Alaskan winter. I love this post and I love you book -- can't wait to see it in print! <3

Kimberly Gabriel said...

I want to read your book because I love this post so much. I love the idea of the setting being a character practically and I love your writing style. Happy Thanksgiving. ;)

Lisa Regan said...

What a lovely post! I love where I live but mostly because my roots here run so deep and in my neighborhood there is still somewhat an element of everyone knows everyone else. A cohesiveness that is disappearing everywhere else. There's just a bit of it left here.