Wednesday, January 4, 2017

H2O to the Rescue

I don't know what it is about water. I need it. I'm not talking about the 8-ounces-eight-times-a-day routine (which I need also), but the tributaries, the gulfs, the creeks, the straits--that sort of thing. I love being near the water. It has always been a place of retreat & calm for me. There's just something in me that needs to know I'm not landlocked. I've lived near oceans & rivers & bayous & swamps & bays. Even a small man-made lake once. I navigate to the water for inspiration, for a few moments of quiet, for meditation, self-examination. For a jolt of joy, really. The water is catalytic in bringing me to a Good Place. So, in a way, it's my therapy. 
I've not always been lucky enough to reside near bodies of water though...
I remember shortly after the Mr. & I were married we moved into our own place. It was an apartment. We lived in Arizona. There was desert all around. Pretty much no water anywhere. I admit I felt a slight suffocation at the thought of daily life surrounded by all that dusty sand. We lived on the top floor of our building. Standing on the balcony I looked past all the cacti & aridness...& then I spotted it: A shimmery pond. I was ecstatic. It was far away, but it was there. I could definitely see the glint & flash of that water catching the sun's rays. During our days in that 3rd floor dwelling, I would often peek out the back sliding glass door for a glimpse of that pond--& just let out a breath of happy. 
(I later found out my pond was really just a reflection of the sun on a blue metal roof. 
But still, it got me through.)

My family & I recently left my beloved city of Richland, Washington & the Columbia River, to come to Alaska. Jesus knows. He knows I need my water. So, not only did He make sure I live in a town near an arm (which is like a bay but skinnier?) of the Gulf of Alaska (which is a neighbor to the Bering Sea) but He has sprinkled this state with over 3,000,000 lakes (that's THREE MILLION) just for me. (Ok, for other people too.) 

On a recent {& rare} blue-sky-full-of-sun kinda day, I suddenly decided to go exploring. These cloudless days mean I need to do just that. To see nature...the mountains...the water. For my sanity & well-being. (It is my number one mission, living in this new & strange land, to fight the gloomies.)
The Mr. took me to a super close beach spot, just past the girls' school, a few minutes drive from home. He stayed in the car while I had a mini photo adventure. 
*Fifteen minutes was all I could take.*
My thighs & face got coldest first. And my trigger finger was a close second. Unfortunately the batteries in both my camera AND phone were almost dead. Plus I forgot my macro phone lens. I'm all for spontaneity. But this kind of spontaneity obviously takes some planning. I'll remember that for next time.

I spotted animal tracks all over the snowy shore. I immediately made a 360-degree scan for any wild animals. I guessed the tracks might be from moose? The snow was so deep, it was hard to tell. They were probably just some random dog tracks. But there is nothing romantic about dog tracks. So I decided  that, yes, they were moose. I imagined that a mommy & a baby moose were out foraging for breakfast earlier this morning, taking the scenic route to a buffet of pinecones, lichens & mosses, just around the bend of land that juts out, which I've never ventured to, but I'm certain I will this summer.

And I may (or may not) have performed an impromptu solo ice skating routine on accident. You see, though I AM surrounded by water, most of it is frozen at the moment. Everywhere, different shapes of ice. The rocks are covered in mud colored ice. There are little ice shards that look like broken glass, crunching underfoot. There are ice ripples covering every surface of ground. There are sheets of ice slowly floating by in the water. There are rounded blobs of ice sitting in the frozen sand.

But it all makes me happy, as seen in exhibit A.
I know I'll be making countless more of these 15-minute excursions, getting my weekly dose of water. If I get some snow pants I may be able to last a few moments longer. And then if I get one of those crazy balaclava face mask thingies NOTHING can stop me. 
Yeah, I'll do that.

Six months ago I was sitting on a fleece blanket on the grass by the river in Eastern Washington: watching ducks & geese swim around, enjoying a picnic with my daughters, tossing rocks in the water & watching their ripples. It was my sanctuary. I would have never guessed that, six months later, I'd be walking along a cold coast in Alaska: watching boats on the inlet & mountains in the background, squatting in snowboots & kneeling in the cold to get a good look at all the ice formations, not able to toss a single thing in the water because it's all stuck to the frozen ground.
I have found a new sanctuary. Not because I have to. But because I need to.