Monday, March 31, 2014

In which glacial is the new epic {Just Write}

Environmental whiplash. No seriously, it's a thing. I had a severe case of it this weekend when I launched straight from a bouncy house birthday party to a glacier hike. One minute I'm surrounded by screaming banshees and smelly socks and headache-inducing inflatables. An hour later, I'm hiking a frozen lake en route to a glacier. Which, come to think of it, is the cure for just about everything, including environmental whiplash.


At first, she envied the toddler in the sled with the skate skiing dad. Then, the musher and his huskies. For the whole of two miles, she trudged, springless steps toward this wonder I'd promised at the halfway point. I was talking about the glacier, but she was thinking about the candy. And really, who cares what the carrot looks like as long as she kept walking?

The boys pressed forward faster, leaving us to linger in the long mountain shadow. I listened to her whine of a cold face and a bruised knee, neither of which are remote factors when she wants to ski just one more run. Hiking is all plod and no whoosh, or so she thinks.

I asked her to sing to pass the time, to leave less air space for the complain-plane. She sang her Alaska songs (Fur Rondezvous and Huskies), and corrected me after I messed up the refrain (you say mush TWO times, not THREE, silly mama). The sun found us again, and together we turned a corner in every sense.

There it was. We walked right up to the glacier and said hello. We pulled out the snacks and the camera and our sense of wonder. Perhaps they were tired of my remarks about how incredibly amazing it was to travel this hour in this place, but they didn't disagree. The girl perked up, in fact, started dancing on the ice, pointing out heart shapes, embracing the label I tried giving her earlier when pleading for a faster gait--my "tough Alaskan girl".


I could maybe name a few moments in the whole of two hours where there wasn't at least a hint of discomfort. Fingers too cold, bladders too full, stomachs too empty, legs too tired.

But the discomfort is never what we remember. We latch on instead to the handful of minutes when the sun highlighted our hair and the glacier towered above and the icebergs became seats and the four of us were together in this surreal, desolate, wild corner of the world. 

I am a day early in this "just write" deal, or six days late is probably more like it. But I think Heather will forgive me just this once.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mahalo, etc.

I never know where to start, usually because I should've started years ago. Do you pretend the years never were and start fresh? Do you go back and wax chronological?

The kids are weaponizing their stuffed animals. There's an invention room and a testing room. They skip room to room. An F-18 bomber has been fashioned from a soccer pillow. It's raining in Hawaii, and we don't care. (Jimmy cracked corn as well. Still don't care.) They say mahalo for the best. vacation. ever. I say mahalo for having eyes that sparkle like everything is wild and new. Their pupils widen, pulses quicken like it's the easiest, most natural way to live. This is the glory of youth.

I live vicariously. I didn't know it wouldn't last forever. I should've, I mean, is anything more obvious? But I didn't. I was in such a hurry to be a responsible adult. Too bad. I would've liked to stay wide-eyed and wild beyond the age of 13. But, I'm still obsessed with whether there will be dessert, so, at least I have that in common with the children.


C brought home a school packet yesterday. He'd written, "An example of someone who shows the habit of amazement and wonder is my mom, because she loves nature and when we came to Alaska, she was amazed." He drew a picture of me with bulbous eyes and weird hair. It's not terribly flattering. But I'm not sure I can think of a compliment that would have made me happier. There was another worksheet about persistence. I was the example in that one too. He said it was because I run marathons. I'm glad there weren't any worksheets asking for examples of people who are impatient or yellers. I'm glad it was just about wonder and persistence.


We came home to sunshine. This is breakup season in Alaska. The ice begins to break, to melt, to disappear. The sun stays up later and later, until it is higher in the sky at 6 pm than it ever was for the whole of January. It's easier to be happy on the days when the sun lingers above the mountains until after dinner. It's easier to love where I live when we can go night skiing in the sunshine.


I never know where to start, but I can usually figure out an ending. Usually. Not today. Today, I'm content just to ramble and to elude to a vacation during which I was so sick I couldn't go 30 seconds without a tissue, a vacation in which rain didn't daunt us even in the slightest, mostly because it wasn't the freezing sort. The truth is today I don't care in the least bit about an ending. I'm happy to have finally just begun.