“Hello, sun in my face.
Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”
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.
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.
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.