Oh give me a home, where the grizzly bears roam
Where the moose and the caribou play
Where nothing will grow, ’cause it’s covered with snow
From June to the following May
Home, home in the snow
Where it’s mild when it’s 90 below
The tundra for me, by the great Bering Sea
And the life of an old Sourdough.
I awoke on the plane yesterday as we descended over the Chugach mountain range, the towering peaks and sweeping valleys still topped with snow, glistening in the heat of the sun. Mountains stretched endlessly behind us; in the distance we could make out the expanse of the murky grey ocean and a sprawl of buildings spread along the coast. I imagined how my college friends would see it, those friends from places that you hear about, places where a lot goes on, where popular culture comes from. I stared down at the town, resting between the mountains and the water, the only thing close to a city for so many miles in every direction. A real middle of nowhere town, I imagined one would think. The few roads out of town only lead to wilder places. I watched from my window as the plane swooped down over Fire Island, over the stretches of mudflats and the coast of Kincaid Park. Forests were caught in a transition from brown to green, finally sprouting leaves after a cold winter, skies blue and hazy. I glimpsed the lakes on the West side, parked float planes lining their shores. Anchorage, Alaska. Home sweet home.
I stepped off the plane with remarkable energy for the length of the trip, breathed in the sweet, cold air of Alaskan springtime. That smell of all the trees going green, of the grass finally starting to grow, mixed with the crisp saltiness of the ocean – heavenly after the smoggy pollution of Europe. The lakes finally went out a couple weeks ago, my mom commented. Float plane season.
At home, Nic came over and everyone sat around the kitchen counter, swapping stories and news and pieces of Alaskana. Devin recounted seeing a beautiful, glossy black bear chasing a moose through our back yard, and complained about the current state of the mountains. Too much snow to hike, not enough to ski, he lamented. Nic told about his time on jury duty, and how his group included someone from Kodiak. Everyone was asking if he had any king crab or salmon he’d like to trade for some moose, he told us. My mom explained to me that while she’s at a wedding in the Lower 48, I’d have to take her flowers inside at night, because you know what they say, you can’t guarantee it won’t freeze until at least June 1st. My dad showed pictures of recent glacier skiing and mountain biking in Denali. Finally, home in the arctic. I fell asleep in the broad daylight of summer evenings, listening to the rustle of leaves and the music of wind chimes.