Reading and writing are considered wintertime activities. In summer, the sunlight blasts life into the hills and valleys in 18 hour concentrations, filling out all the scraggly branches with green. Wildflowers pop out of the earth like slow motion fireworks. The growing season is short. Broccoli bursts into flower. Kale does okay. Everyone has a garden or a temperature modulated greenhouse and everyone has varying success. There are awards given to the best legumes at State Fair. Produce is expensive here and comes once a week on a barge from Seattle and from somewhere else before Seattle. Bananas are browning on arrival. Avocados quite ready. So on.
Everything comes alive quick and ready in the summer. The sun is here. The sun is flooding this place with light. This is not the time for thoughtful leisure, they say. This is the time to hike and slide and jump and play and boat and fish and fill the freezer with things to eat in the dark months, the months we won’t yet mention. No one who lived here in the winter spends these sunny days reading or writing music. They are out, social, impelled by the peripheries of those forever looming dark days (haunting their mortgage) to go out and act like the foliage in these violent, swift seasons of growth.
Bonfires with homemade instruments. Shuttle buses for bushwhacking hikes up unnamed peaks. Ferry rides around the corner into the misty fjords. Biking to Canada. Watching bears behave as unpredictably as wind on the water’s surface. Big shaggy things. Alarmingly huge, even from a distance. I don’t want us to frighten each other on the trail, bear. I don’t want our heartrates to peak at the same time. I want what you want and I want to live. You are a good analogy to the natural rhythm of the people in tune with these seasons. Hibernate, binge, etc. I’ll admit I’ve never taken more naps in my life than while up here. Some somnolent daze keeps me out of more youthful energies I’ve known. Can no longer be so reckless, says the future. You are approaching 30 faster than you thought possible. I don’t know why I’m so sleepy still in this Alaskan summer. Some part of the mind is stuck idling on something nonessential, burning up energies without me taking a conscious part of this fuel transfer. What is it I am so fixated on to keep me inside?
Summer works as a boost of adrenaline only for those who know winter. It is beautiful. Snow covers everything. No tourists other than heli-skiers. You must snowshoe or ski or snowplow to work or to the bbq. Huddled over a cup of tea with the frozen whipping wind outside. This is the time to write and to read. Going on into the snowy dark to chop more kindling for a fire in the rattling cabin. A guitar near the fire. You are looking deeply into your only soul and you see it multiply and you are terrified. The winter reverses the summer light with darkness. Nearly 5 hours of sun in the dead of winter, but much less depending on the angle of the Chilkat mts. from your home. The dark is what people are most afraid of during this time. Dark night of the soul. The northern lights streak across the brightest constellations as green smoke. You wait in your cabin with your books.
“Do you live here?” a guest will ask.
“Yeah, for now.”
“Oh so where do you spend winter?”
“Not sure yet. I have not arranged an exit strategy.”