It's happening again.
I've written before that it was the in-between times that were my favorite.
Every time I'm fully settled into a season, doesn't matter which,
my senses start to itch for things to change again.
So here we are. February.
The winds are shifting, breathing life back into the green all around us.
The biggest difference is in the light.
Now the shadow of the mountains follow me home.
Thinking of spring - in February, in Alaska - feels impossible.
But we only received two major snowfalls, each lasting about a week at a time.
The snowpack in Southeast is less than a quarter of typical amounts.
Together we're holding our breath, waiting for time to pass to see what the fish will have to say.
Maybe winter will reappear one or two more times before that moment.
But people are messing with garden beds and leaving the snowshoes at home,
so whatever comes we all know it will be temporary.
I've found a rhythm.
This is the first year in the last 11 I haven't packed everything I owned into suitcases and boxes.
Now I understand why it felt like I was holding my breath.
Turns out I like things to change,
but sometimes it's nice for them to just not.
This new rhythm's still a bit uneven.
Planting roots in muskeg's a precarious business.
Put too much in all at once and you'll sink,
too little and you'll stick to the surface.
I'm still holding my breath.
Ask any person in their mid-twenties if they've got their life figured out.
Once they stop laughing or crying (or both?) give them some coffee and back away slowly.
In a way it's necessary.
Being in a state of flux is exactly what we need right now.
When Alaska starts smelling of spring in February,
and our islands are falling into the ocean,
to pretend that everything is fine, everything is the same,
is either ignorant or cruel.
To be apathetic is to be both.
I'm talking about climate change and I live in Alaska.
This is the chapter of my life called
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.
We are an oil state.
It's what fuels us and enables us.
Our relationship is an unhealthy one, and we all know it.
With low oil prices our state budget is hitting rock bottom,
and like any addict would we're furiously lashing out, begging for one more hit.
"With industry poised to invest billions of dollars in the rapidly thawing and increasingly accessible and resource-rich Arctic, Alaska now has a blueprint to help the state to take advantage of the situation, members of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission said Monday."
This time with feeling.
"With industry poised to invest billions of dollars in the rapidly thawing, increasingly accessible and resource-rich Arctic, Alaska now has a blueprint to help the state to take advantage of the situation, members of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission said Monday."
We're an addict that doesn't care about an open wound
because it means we can find a vein more easily.
We've hit rock bottom (prices, that is)
and rather than see it as a chance to think outside the box
we're curled up in the corner waiting for the sky to fall.
Okay, that's enough.
This is getting depressing even for me.
And I'm the girl who spent Valentine's Day thinking about love and reading about the Sixth Extinction.
In a way it's a natural link.
They're both totalizing experiences that can overwhelm our sense of what's possible.
It was around that time when I realized why I'm so drawn to fantasy books and shows,
and have an irrational draw to superhero movies.
Because sometimes it all boils down to,
"Honey, I love you, but this world isn't going to save itself."
Bonus points if they do it together.
I need to be done soon.
Because the world isn't going to save you back.
I've been writing and editing, submitting to different places and finding more deadlines to push for.
I've been at the bookstore full time,
and working my new second job as the Market Manager for our summer produce and arts market here in town.
My third job, cleaning and being entertained by cruise ships, will start in May.
I'm resisting the urge to figure out how Paypal works and put it on this website.
I'd rather have at least one thing in my life that I do purely out of love, not out of financial obligation.
Though in writing that I realize how lucky I am,
because I love the work that comes with those three sources of employment,
and I wouldn't give that up for anything right now.
Poverty brain has me pushing for Optimum Efficiency in everything I do,
so even my down time has to be "good enough" to justify the "wasted" time out of my day.
Luckily that means hikes and quality, intentional time with my favorite people.
Also lots of Parks and Recreation.
In these busy days I need Leslie Knope's optimism,
her fierce refusal to be anything less than herself.
A self that gives a damn, works hard, loves deeply, and knows when to say
"Fuck it, time for some waffles."
We could all use a little bit of Leslie Knope's optimism.
Elizabeth Kolbert interviewed scientists on the front lines of the human-activity-caused mass extinction event.
You know, the one happening right now.
And they were counseling her about their optimism.
An Alaskan researcher told her, "People have to have hope. I have to have hope. It's what keeps us going."
If they have hope, who are we to give up?
Because we aren't just an oil state.
You hear me?
We are a salmon state.
A people state.
A state made of mountain, muskeg, tundra and rock.
A state held in the grips of ocean, rivers, streams and ice.
The sky isn't falling, it's opening up.
It's up to us to be brave enough to take that first step.
It's also up to us to make sure we don't leave anyone behind.
Look around you.
Defend what needs defending.
In editing my pieces for submission to other places I came up with a new ending for
the piece that was called Home but became Those Who Stay.
This post is for Those Who Speak,
because you are everywhere and you are legion.
Thank you for reading and encouraging and doing.
Now pass along some hope and knowledge today.
Because we're just getting started.
Spring will be here soon and these roots won't plant themselves
What will our new ending be?
Our berries tempt with tart
the evergreens shelter and conceal.
The treachery of the water is well known,
yet still we welcome the lure.
Even with an empty net there’s always a catch.
We stand on the precipice, our options unclear.
It’s the quiet before the storm.
What can be saved, what needs to be found,
and what can we afford to lose?
We have the lessons of history
and optimism that comes from going to the moon and back.
Pragmatism needs to be ignored for now.
Nobody else gets to define the limits of our reality.
What will we do, those of us who stay.
What will we do with this one wild and precious place?