Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In cloudy and in clear

When the notification popped up about the aurora borealis, I was peeling apples in the kitchen and the kids were racing scooters under a cloudless sky. It said to "expect a show come nightfall", that the northern light activity would be as high as it gets, that tonight was the night.

At dinner, as we discussed school bus seat assignments and the government shutdown and reading log prizes, my mind wandered hours ahead to how I'd catch the lights on my camera. As I scooped the potatoes onto plates and said yes to thirds on applesauce, I pictured what an epic Instagram the aurora borealis would make. Northern lights! With my own eyes! How lucky am I?

The clouds rolled in while I was washing the dishes, scrubbing the cinnamon sugar from the bottom of the applesauce pan. A half hour later, the sky reportedly lit up with green and pink. But I didn't see a speck of it.

I'm sitting now at the desk, typing, and the clouds have only grown thicker. This is the verge, the cusp, the almost but not quite. There's a metaphor here screaming to be crafted into a moving and inspirational essay about perspective. If someone could write it up all nice and pretty and goose-bump inducingly, and then send me the link on Facebook, that would be great. Until then, I'll just be here pouting about the clouds.


It was dangerously gorgeous on the way home from school today. And by dangerous, I mean, so pretty that I might possibly pay too much attention to the mountains and not enough to the driving. I want to capture it somehow, but I'm too tired to come up with words that do justice to the extraordinary beauty perched on either side of the road that loops between the ordinary places, from school to home, up the hill from the river valley.

It feels surreal to be in this vast and beautiful place, just driving my same old car, coming back home to my same old burgundy chair, the one I sat on in Virginia and Maine and Ohio and now, here in the last frontier.
See, this is why I can forgive Alaska for snowing on the first day of fall

There's a stage of moving when everything feels familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, when routine takes a solid four-walled shape within adventure's high-peaked circus tent, when life feels simultaneously risky and safe, when skin prickled hope mixes with bone deep contentment. I'm in that stage. We'll call it the honeymoon stage. It's also the can't-go-to-bed-angry stage, even when my beloved state promises lights and delivers clouds.

So good night, Alaska. I love you, for warmer, for colder, in cloudy and in clear.


  1. I'm bitter on your behalf.

    But something tells me you'll have more opportunities.