Whew, it’s already decidedly autumnal here. How has this summer been for you? It has gone by lightning fast for us. We have been busy with many visitors and an ever more energetic group of kids. Of course, after a year of being apart from some of the people we love the most, it was amazing to see grandparents, cousins, siblings, and friends. My mom celebrated her 70th birthday and we were able gather and celebrate. It was one of those parties that ended up being even better than we imagined it could be. My brother and sister in law went all out with the “70” decorations—balloons, yard signs, candles, the whole shebang. We are not a decorate-for-birthdays kind of family, so it was very fun!
Summer in Alaska has been mild this year—I haven’t looked at the data, but it seemed like a cooler, wetter and all around “shorter” summer. This was a common sentiment for many in Alaska. Even in May I had a nagging feeling that summer was almost over! I diligently started seeds in March, April and May…and then did not get them out in the garden in a timely manner. We still have some great produce, and the garden is better than it was last year…but my days as a successful farmhand are barely evident in my largely stunted and slug infested beds! I feel like I have four good excuses, though. It is reassuring that the garden appears to be improving, as well. This “new” house has a slightly different climate than what I had become used to up here.
Now fall is here, and it is beautiful everywhere. It is the time of the everlasting “Golden Hour.” The leaves are changing and sweaters are needed even on rainy days. The State Fair has come and gone. Salmon Fishing has all but ended. The snow is creeping down the mountains (I know a few of you love the idea of “termination dust”). The consistent wind, rain, sun cycle has offered some amazing bumper crops of mushrooms. I am not confident in my identifying abilities to eat anything other than morels (none of those right now) and puffballs. However, we have fun picking, examining, making spore prints and attempting to identify the many different species of mushrooms in our own yard. Many of them have turned to mush, now.
Another reason this summer has been the “fastest” ever is because of a personal accomplishment—I ran a half marathon! I use “fast” pretty loosely here. The girls cheered my girlfriend and I on at Mile 10, and Ava’s sign read “Do Your Personal Best, Mama!” Since it was my first race other than a turkey trot several years ago, it was my personal best! Two hours and 42 minutes. I was and continue to be proud. I would like to think some Farmgirl fortitude had something to do with it. It was incredibly fun to see the amazing athletes who ran the race in half the time we did, to see the marathoners and ultra marathoners pass us, and equally amazing to see the people walking, running on prosthetics, running their umpteenth 1/2 marathon, or running their first. Honestly, the first people that passed us heading toward the finish line looked miserable! We were in the back 1/3 of racers (we got 470th place out of 630!), and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. The atmosphere was joyful and supportive with different groups of bands (folk music, bagpipes, native drummers, and a polka band!) And some very entertaining folks cheering from the trailside.
I have been dabbling in running since I was in high school. For many years I told myself that I do not come from people who run. This is probably true. I have thick strong legs that are heavy to swing back and forth over and over. They are meant to move heavy loads slowly up and down reasonable hills, I think, and they do that well. But, running can be for almost anyone. I did a “couch to 5k” program about five years ago, and that was the first time I had ever enjoyed and looked forward to running. I have done some fun long trail runs over the years that left me wrecked for several days afterward. I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy running. I might even call myself a runner. Running is something that is my own, for now. I do run with the stroller sometimes, but it is often the only thing I do in a week that is just for me. It keeps me fit enough for almost any other activity and it acts as a gateway into other physical pursuits.
With the last 18 months of uncertainty and topsy-turviness, I have fallen back into escapist thoughts. This is my go-to mental health coping mechanism. I imagine different scenarios of what life could be…an “If this, then this” kind of logic. Lately, I have tried a creative/meditative exercise of imagining I am running in different places or times. With age and experience (and perhaps another layer of self-preservation), I have come to include more realistic aspects into these scenarios. Example: Evan and I are childless and living in Thailand, we know how to surf, catch yummy fish, and speak Thai. We are so fit, agile–practically ageless! We are, of course, amazing friends with the locals. I run along the jungle roads, humidity frizzing out my hair, small children teasing my slow gait but also cheering me on. Every once in a while, though, there is unrest. The government is too oppressive or too lenient. A long-standing local establishment has gone out of business because a foreign investor pulled strings to put in an unwanted and unnecessary factory. There is a tsunami or horrible flooding. It is not always perfect in paradise.
And then my run is over, and I return to a chaotic house full of tiny people, big husband, pets, friends and all of their accoutrements. This is my paradise for now, and it is not always perfect. And that’s okay. I am reminded of the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Indeed they are!
It was great to check in with you all. I hope you found some moments of paradise in the warp speed of this summer. Hard to believe we are already peaking at 2022!
Until next time,
Sending you peace and love from Alaska,
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl