One Man's Paradise

Presently

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.

George Harrison

Just another gorgeous day in paradise. No need to dwell on the past or fear the future. I am just taking in what the days are offering.

I am expecting a loud boom any time. An explosion. That’s how fast nature is changing. Probably it’s not that dramatic. Just appears to me that way after those winter days. First of all, there is so much light. Even before I open my eyes in the morning at 6:45 the sun is already up. No more amazing sunrise images for me, at least for a while. Too early for me… When I do my last round around midnight I don’t need a flashlight. It’s still twilight! During the day the sun stands high on the firmament, gotta wear shades, it is so bright. Glaring light barrels down from the snowy mountain sides. Too much light even for my tender greens. I have put seeds of bell pepper, squash, and avocado into small pots and they are going like gangbusters. Kept the seedlings in the house so far. Yesterday I put them in the greenhouse during the day. It must have been close to 80 inside. They love that.

The willow catkins have progressed a bit, after being stagnant for more than 2 months. The first wildflowers are out, although I still don’t know what it is. It looks like a little plant eating monster,  a dark purple mouth with fuzzy white teeth. The lawn pushes a hint of green much to the delight of our horses.

In the morning I heard the first flock of geese heading North. I could not see them at first. They were somewhere in the big sky. There. 50 or so, a small group. V-formation, high above the ground taking advantage of the prevailing wind. Not as the crow flies. The general direction is North, but for their own reasons they deviate from the prescribed course, maybe looking for suitable drafts? They may not soar as effortless as an eagle, but they sure go the distance. Where do they go? To Beringea, the paradise of the North?

One seabird with long orange legs and a skinny beak has made a rest stop at Puntilla Lake. Three seagulls and a handful of ducks also took refuge in the little open water the lake has to offer. A think crust of ice covers the water in the morning, testimony to the frigid water temperature. It is interesting to watch the breakup process, very different form freeze up. Trapped gas bubbles reappear, small ice bergs float around the lake shore. The lake surface goes from white to gray, to green and blue. There are insects in the water moving swiftly. They have one specialized leg that serves as a paddle.

May

May

April

April

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Inside Out

Breakup

They call it the ugly season – Breakup. The snow is melting, runoff, mud. All the things that were left on the ground the year before, they reappear. Not all is pretty, indeed.

Sometimes you have to look beyond the obvious and you’ll find beauty.

breakup-3

breakup-2

breakup-1

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Inside Out

Earth Day

“This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man does not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Chief Seattle

What did I do to celebrate Earth Day?

I did not drive my car to work today.
I did not heat the house today.
I did not shop today.

Well, that’s not much, given my current situation. There is no road. I have no car. Although it is below 20 degrees outside the house remains warm enough so that I don’t need to fire up the wood stove. During the day it warms up to 49 degrees Fahrenheit. Under a clear sky the sun feels more like 80 degrees. Is there such a thing as the Arctic Solar Factor? And shopping? The next store is 120 miles away and they don’t deliver right now. So, no big deal.

Although, I commend the institution of Earth Day, I think that it is not enough. We should have an Earth Year, followed by an Earth Century, where we give Mother Earth a reprieve from our abuse. I am not sure what we should or should not due to heal Earth, but I am sure we cannot keep going as we do now. We can, but it will be a crowded, artificial place and in the end wilderness and adventure will be distant memories.

What does the fox say?

"What did you do for Earth Day?"

“What did you do for Earth Day?”

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One Man's Paradise

Wednesday

How is that for an inconspicuous title?

I have received many best wishes for New Years Day and sent out a few myself. Before rising this morning and “going to work” I thought about the importance of this day and our habit to come up with resolutions for the new years and to wish friends and family all the best. Nothing wrong with that.

It is one thing to celebrate the end of the old year and to welcome the new year on a particular day. On the other hand, I like to think that every day is a special day, a precious gift that I want to appreciate no more, no less than New Years Day.

In that sense, today was Wednesday for me. A beautiful winter day. We had 7 inches of fresh snow on the ground, and it was still “dumping” in the morning. The spruce trees had a fresh layer of thick snow on their branches, there were no visible human tracks around the lodge, even the foxes were still coiled up, waiting for us to break the trail. Even our backyard bear sported a new look.

Bearly wearing his crown

Bearly wearing his crown

We watched on TV  the ball drop in New York last night with the usual fanfare, crowds and bad music – 4 hours before it was midnight here in Alaska.  Our transition into the new year was almost the opposite on most accounts.

No fireworks, no neighbors, even Buckey is gone, so we are just 2 humans now in the middle of nowhere, enjoying winter in a remote lodge in Alaska. Yes, there was snow shoveling in the morning, but also packing down the runway, feeding hungry horses, maintaining our trail to the wood lot, hauling some fire wood, transmitting the weather to NOAA, cooking, eating, and relaxing in front of the fire place. I am tired and happy.

Just another day in paradise.

Not only today, but also tomorrow, the day after and the rest of the year, wishing you all a happy and joyous 2014.

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Fern Frost
Inside Out

Mindfulness

Spending a summer in Alaska in Denali National Park has been a surprisingly rich experience. I came with no expectations, except the desire to see a place, that others have described as wild and majestic, with my own eyes. In essence, that’s it:

Seeing things with my own eyes.

No blog, no photograph, no documentary, and no book can give the same experience, as seeing and living something for yourselves. I could stop writing here. At least I understand now, why I came here.

I also understand the factors that allowed me to really “experience” this unique place.

It was the luxury of leisure and time. Most travelers have a set itinerary allowing them to spend a few hours or a few days to see and check the highlights on their scheduled trip. Given the unpredictable nature of things in Alaska (and many other locations) it is obvious that those highlights may not present themselves to every visitor. In case of Denali that means you may not see the mountain, or a bear, or a moose. Maybe you miss the blueberry season, or maybe you visit at the height of the mosquito season and wonder how anybody can enjoy the beauty of this place being swarmed by 15 different species of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. A second factor that helped me to appreciate the natural beauty of Denali was the absence of modern day distractions. Living at the end of the road with limited access to the outside world opened my eyes to the world around me. There was no TV screen that drew me into other worlds.

Now I am observing the arrival of winter. At first sight, the surroundings appear to become less attractive. The daylight hours become less every day. The colors are less vibrant, on some days it almost feels as colors are absent. Nonetheless, this lack of visual abundance sharpens the senses. I noticed this watching the ice flowers forming on the windows. I have observed these ice crystals now for several days. I notice changes in shape and size, appearance, occurrence, mood, and character of these ice formations. No, I don’t think I am going crazy.

Having the time and leisure to observe, without extraneous distractions allows me to appreciate this place mindfully.

A beautiful thing: Mindfulness.

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