Bitter cold, ice and snow, long dark days negative temperatures. People always ask me why I moved to Alaska let lone right before the long dark winters. Even people who live IN Alaska ask me why I would move right before the winter. And when I tell them that I love snow and the cold, that the darkness doesn’t bother me. They quickly assume I must be a winter sports person. Which would probably be true, if I had any money. The ‘things’ that often make Alaskan winters bearable and fun to the locals is the skiing, snowboarding, winter camping and snow machining and if you’ve the connections-dog sledding. Otherwise just about everyone I’ve met local and none aren’t huge fans of the winters. While I would love to do all of the above mentioned, I sadly have no money, not the right connects (or at least here in Anchorage) and the big one being time away from work. I wasn’t even getting out of the city for a while because of a lack of car… So why the hell do I like the winters here when I can’t even do the winter fun stuff? I don’t have the best answer besides outright insanity. There is something about the cold. Yes even the frosty windows, scraping ice off the cars and having your hands go completely numb in a matter of seconds from the door to the said car (or bus stop). I love it all. It makes me feel alive and HERE. The sun finally peaking out over the eastern mountains is a sight to behold. The snow rings around the full moon that casts dancing shadows upon the snow covered hills… Its so perfect, so alive and on the edge. It’s real. It’s not a post card or a pretty painting. It’s the view from even the crappiest apartment (provided it’s high enough). It’s what I see on my way to work as I coast along the Seward Hwy trying not to be hit or slide off the road (and keeping an eye out for Moose if it’s still dark). The cars are often so dirty from the sand, silt and dirty snow that one cannot tell the original color (very few care, we just wipe the headlights off so we can still see). Ice covered roads? Well no we don’t salt up here… what’s the point? You just need to learn how to drive (and no I’ve no snow chains or studded tires for all you southerners who think it’s a must) and stick with a car that can handle such conditions. I’m by no means the greatest driver, but so far so good!
The Ravens here make me smile. I’ve always had a fondness for the Corvid birds (Ravens, Crows, Blue & Steller jays and Magpies); I actually wanted a pet crow quite badly a few years ago. I ended up with a Bluejay instead but I couldn’t have been happier (a great story when I get around to it!). The Ravens are the biggest of the Corvids and even though they cannot talk like crows (vocal cords are too deep) they are still considered one of the smartest birds-up there with African Grays. The huge blacker-than-night glossy birds are viewed more as giant rats with wings (much like crows in the lower 48) by most but to me they are beautiful. They have feathered feet to keep them warm (nature is so amazing) unlike any of the other Corvids. Their great beaks are more curved (like a roman nose on a Baroque horse) than any of the other Corvids making them even more unique. To me they are very special and I love to hear and see them.
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Mountains are everywhere here. Some rising up from the water on sea level (making 3000 ft mountains seem huge) and others in great ranges that stretch far beyond the eye can see. Amazing doesn’t quite do it justice. Even in moments of great despair and pain, I can gaze at the mountains (whichever ones are currently in sight) and feel my spirit lift. Even if I am in the middle of Anchorage with the noise and chaos of the city still raging all around me, I only have to look at the mountains and bring to mind the quietness (except for the winds) of that mountain. The wisdom it must pocess. The beauty and strength it brings to mind. I wish I could be so great without words. So strong that even the blind cannot fail to see the enigma it poses. In their ridged and wildness the mountains have a fierce grace that speaks of inner stillness even in the chaos of winter storms. All of these thoughts and images are bestowed just by looking. The few times I’ve gotten to hike to the top of some the smaller ones 3-6000 ft I feel at such a level of peace that words don’t mean anything and life itself it silly and mundane in the world of humans. There is nothing but the mountains and the force (nature). It’s the greatest high and the closest I believe I’ve ever been to absolute serenity. I wish my pictures and art could do it justice. But alas maybes you should just travel and see it for yourselves!
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