This blog, meant to be my Alaska journal of all things adventurous, or just ordinary, has been silent since breakup at the end of April, about 5 months ago. And let me tell you why:
I sit now at the dining table, writing, kerplunking on the computer keys, fingers slightly sticky from an English muffin I ate with breakfast —an English muffin smothered in fresh homemade raspberry jam I made with two friends after we picked 16 pounds of this wild fruit.
I do believe that was the first time I'd ever picked raspberries. Overgrown vines of fruit in neighboring yards, all for the taking. I wore my purpley-red splotchy stained hands with pride. And I even found a tiny little patch growing in my yard. My very own raspberries!
Something I found out that also coincides with berry-picking: spiders. My vocal chords got a workout during those afternoons of collecting raspberries.
Raspberry jam is one of those things at the nucleus of all my happy memories. Grandmother's jam, specifically. This jam makes me think of grandmother, which then takes me on a trail of memories full of laughter & gladness & love. Long family car trips over mountains. Agate hunts on beaches. Searching for tiny crabs under barnacle-covered rocks. Ferry rides. Card games & board games played with cousins & aunties & uncles.
The jars of jam my friends & I made have been equally divided. My portion now sits on the pantry shelf reminding me of my first Alaska summer: where the sun just sits there in the sky all day, giving you permission to extend your play-time. This constant daylight was the weirdest, most extraordinary thing to me. (Blackout curtains for the win!)
The darkness of winter held me & my family captive in our home. But once that sun came out for summer, how could we not want to stay up until 1:30 in the morning, roasting marshmallows & all-beef hotdogs & mushrooms & onions & pineapple & nectarines & chicken & steak & bacon & peppers & apples & corn on the cob over firepits & BBQ's nearly every weekend with friends? We could not resist. Daylight foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr. (Our eyeballs, literally, would not shut.)
It's a good thing I actually don't mind the constant smell of campfire smoke. Because that was the essence of my summer. It was in my hair, in my clothes, in my home.
All this sunshine meant I had the chance to take off the mudboots of spring to wear the sandals of summer!
*tosses boots in the air like a boomerang that won't return*
I wore sandals twice.
*quickly retrieves boots & slips them on once more*
I just don't think I'm acclimated. I need to do a little bit more interacting with my climate. So it's a good thing my feet look good in black rubber.
My summer included things like wild bunny visits, weekly workouts, thrift store shopping, drawing, painting, dabbling in pancake art, snowcones, Italian sodas, sticking my toes in cold lakes, crafting up hundreds of succulents for a friend's wedding, baptisms, relay games, a scavenger hunt, walking a 5K, crunchy tofu tacos, a crazy tree-falling accident in the woods, junk food wars, becoming a mom to teenagers, developing a gyro addiction (Charlie's Angels gyros = tummy love), + getting to lead worship while sandwiched between two Harley's at the Hogs, Rods & North Road Rides event at Aurora Heights.
But I also I experienced a lot of firsts this summer. And, in my favorite format of list-making, I shall now share those firsts with you...• I ate my first Alaska salmon IN Alaska, like, the day after it was caught & it was AMAZING! Fish gifts from friends are the BEST!
• I went fishing in the Kenai river for the first time. Blog post coming soon!
• I'm pretty sure I experienced the weirdest 4th of July: No fireworks for the first time. I hear around here they have fireworks right before Thanksgiving? Because that makes total sense.
• It was the first time I've ever lived somewhere with so much rain! But raindrops on rooftops are now my new favorite sound.
• My family & I visited a Nikiski beach on one of the hottest days of the year. I never thought I'd say 68 degrees was hot. So yeah, that was a first.
• I saw a real bear in the wild for the first time on a hike I took with family & friends up Skyline Trail, which is another blog post to be shared. That hike was the hardest thing I've EVER done. I'd rather give birth to multiple babies ON that trail than do that hike again.
• I visited Homer for the first time. The girls & I thoroughly enjoyed this outing with friends! The bubble station on the pier was a favorite. As was visiting the beach near the Islands & Oceans Visitor Center. We also had ice cream at the Flagship Creamery & Crepes shop, spent a lot of time at Karen Hornaday Park, & ate dinner at Fat Olive's.
• I had my first fire ON a beach, when a big crew from my church spent part of an evening at Captain Cook State Park.
• The Mr. consumed his first ever bacon s'more. 3400 calories, in case you were wondering.
• The 13-year old caught her first fish.
• I watched live rugby for the first time at the Kenai Dipnet Fest Rugby Tournament. I am now a rugby fan!
• I made my first ever triple layer cake.
And, finally, it was the first time I ever uttered these words: "I miss the stars!"
But they are returning.
I'll see you soon Betelgeuse, Antares, Mu Cephi!
We'll meet again, Sirius, Talitha, & Zaurak!