Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter blues (or why I write in Alaska)

It's getting cold up here in Anchorage, about 2 degrees right now, with temps forecasted for below 0 later tonight.

I'm not a winter person, even though I run throughout the year. The cold bullies me. I suffer. If I wear too little, I'm chilled and miserable. If I wear too much, I sweat and become chilled and miserable.

Yet, there's a beauty in the cold, in the winter, this far north. Right before sunset (which comes earlier and earlier; we're down to less than six hours of daylight and losing fast), the sky turns the most remarkable shade of blue, which spreads out until everything is cast in shadow and the snow fades to lavender and running through it is like running through a dream.

Full moon over Cook Inlet--that's downtown Anchorage in the background, nestled against the Chugach Mountains.

Winter is a time to slow down, to cozy up inside the house with a good book. It's a time to write poems and finish essays and stay up all night working on a novel, and who cares if it ever sells or not? When the sun finally rises and the air turns lavender and you're exhausted yet strangely exhilarated, such things don't matter.

Sunrise over Kenai Lake, around 10 a.m.

I doubt I'd be the writer that I am if I didn't live in Alaska. I'd still write, of course. But without the mountains and the inlet, the bears and moose and occasional glimpse of a wolf, my writing would be tamer, less wild. I wouldn't take as many chances. I wouldn't reveal as much of myself. I wouldn't burrow down deep or as far or as often. I wouldn't risk letting go of small pieces of my soul.

Seward Small Boat Harbor, last winter

Sunrise over Mt. Benson

Sorry if I sound melodramatic. It's the blues. They do me in every year, but in the best possible way.

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