Friday, August 30, 2002

Wired & Tired

Denny left for Anchorage this afternoon in a Suburban loaded with people. The visitors will be boarding flights Outside tonight and tomorrow, and he will be heading back out to Cold Bay. It is nice for him to have some company on that long (five-hour) drive--he has made it so many times over the years alone.

I thought I would enjoy having the house back to myself but I am inexplicably lonely in what should be welcomed solitude.

I'm wandering around the the house at loose ends, aimless. Unable to concentrate. Unable to sit still. The pile of tapes on top of the VCR mock me. I don't know if I am ready to hear that voice again, to watch the play of expressions across his face. It is suddenly too real.

It's a bit like the day-after-Christmas feeling you have as a kid. A strange mixture of elation and depression.

But you have to take what life gives you and make the most of it.

If nothing else--the future has suddenly gotten a tad more interesting.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Vacation

Okay, so I have been chilling out since the 11th. Have you missed me?

In the meantime, the season has turned from summer to early fall. There is a chill in the morning air and the night is gradually encroaching into what were daylight hours.

Most damningly, the fireweed is starting to cotton out, the brilliant blooms just scattered clusters of florets on the very tops of random stalks. The lower temperature last night was in the upper thirties...

The tide turns twice, then turns again...

So, I spent my first week of vacation cleaning house. Houseguests. [shudder] I mucked out the "spare room" (we'll be looking for things for months...) and set up two makeshift beds. The actual hostessing duties have been light. Denny, ever mindful of my social ineptitude, squired our friends off to Valdez last week for salmon fishing. What can I say?--people give me hives. Mentally if not physically.

While the tourists visited with an old friend in McCarthy, Denny nipped home for a few days of mingling and some R&R of his own. Then, yesterday, we floated the Kenai River from Cooper Landing to Skilak Lake Road. [See entry for August 26th for details...]

Denny plans on heading over to the cabin on McDonald Spit with the visitors today. Cat-keeping duties will keep me at home, though I told him I would go over for the day on Thursday if he will come and get me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Smoke

Cranes are flying overhead. A harbinger of fall.

The winds shifted again these past few days. The air is smoky from the wildfires in the Interior. Visibility has run four or five miles--not as bad as the last time--but this time is more persistent, and we can smell the smoke.

I've been wandering around in a daze, as well. I have seen a film that was so unexpected that it has left me simultaneously stunned and inarticulate. It can't be explained. I guess it needs to be experienced. But it is a most beguiling, seductive drug.

Monday, August 05, 2002

August

Sunday, and it's raining in Alaska.
Seven days, I haven't seen the sun...

--the Wrangel Mountain Song
John Denver

Summer is sliding away. August is already here, and the days are like a handful of pebbles, dropping one by one from my grasp.

An old tropical storm is spinning in the Aleutians--a wave of moisture came through early this morning, breaking the string of beautiful, hot days. I woke up in the darkness and listening to rain pouring down. Rain--a sound that years of Alaskan living has made synonymous with summer for me.

The heat has translated into humidity--a muggy morning with the temperature and dewpoint both at 54 degrees, tattered shreds of stratus lying along the bluff, fed by the drizzle.

The indirect light makes the fireweed glow with an unnaturally intense color. Slowly, the florets climb the tall spikes as each bud opens--folklore maintains that when they have bloomed to the top, first frost is only two weeks away. We are on the countdown now, with the floral fuses burning.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Stars

I saw the stars this morning for the first time since May.

Of course, I had to get up at 2 am to see them. I was out in the yard, waving Denny off to Anchorage. The northern horizon glowed with pre-dawn light, but overhead were the Dipper and the Little Bear, doing their slow dance around the pole. A cresent of moon hung in the northeast sky.

One positive thing to be said for the cooler seasons--you don't have to get up so early to star-gaze.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Baked Alaska

sunrise: 5:48 am
sunset: 10:34 pm

After the rain and cool temperatures of last week, this week has been a surprise as most of the state bakes under a dome of high pressure. High temperature records are being broken every day as highs reach the seventies and eighties.

When I came into work this afternoon, PD said there had been a fire yesterday up toward Bald Mountain--apparently sparked by lightening.

I had seen the cumulo-nimbus build-ups over the higher terrain to the west of us Wednesday afternoon. Larry had come by to talk with Denny about putting out some crab pots, so the guys were sitting on a tailgate in the shade, drinking beer. I went out to say hi and remarked on how dark the sky was in that direction. Later, Denny came in and said he had heard thunder. I guess that's what did it.

PD said the lightening hit in a bunch of beetle-killed spruce and the fire just took off. The response was immediate--helicopters, spotter planes and fire crews. They kept him pretty busy for a Wednesday evening, but they got the fire contained, then extinguished. A clean-up crew must have been left on the ground overnight, because this evening, a helicopter ferried some fire fighters out, unloading them on the ramp near Taxiway Charlie. After three trips, the helicopter took off to the north, and a Casa 212 came in and picked up the personnel.

The air was drier today, with just a few clouds building in the afternoon. A mixed blessing that as we get drier, the possibility of thunderstorms is decreasing.