Inside Out

A secret…

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

Socrates

Windy conditions in mountains

Windy conditions in the mountains

I have not lived in a barrel as the great Greek philosopher but I believe Socrates has a point. Food and water, clothes and a warm, dry shelter are enough to satisfy our basic needs. Add some good company, as in humans or pets, and life can be enjoyable. Can be. Because it is not the external factors that make us happy or not. It is an appreciation from within that fills us with happiness.

Today, I am enjoying a clear, sunny day inside. At least for the moment it is the right place to warm up from the blistering winds that have driven the snow hard for the last 2 days. It was a beautiful display of snow crystals, clouds moving across the ridges and valleys. We went out for a short hike up to the Monument yesterday. It was too windy to stop and watch the waves of snow moving across the tundra, which looked more like an ocean than anything else. My gloves took off in the wind twice. For a brief moment I had to think of the mountaineers in the Alaska Range enduring high winds on exposed ridges. No place to hide…

Once on top it was a quick turn around, back down the mountain, into the sheltered lodge at the lake, where a warm dinner waited for us.

 

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One Man's Paradise

A silent encounter

After our work was done for today we took a little hike celebrating another great day. First we followed snowmobile tracks to minimize breaking through the soft snow. I took some pictures of the sun peaking through some spruce trees above Puntilla Mountain. In the shadow the snow was corny. Animal tracks were visible all over the place. I followed in the foot steps of a caribou that were a few days old. The low sunlight made those tracks stand out beautifully. At one point I thought I saw an otter track. It looked like bicycle track. Just a straight line, barely visible foot prints. I took some pictures, fascinated by the variety of tracks. So much life in those cold hills! I also noticed that my friends had chosen a different path. I was by myself.

After a while I started heading back. This time straight down to the lake. The closer I came to the frozen lake the more alders were hiding underneath the snow. In places I would break in, hip deep. My bunny boots filled with snow, which slowly melted, resulting in cold feet.

Looking for the best way to get out of this mess, I noticed some motion not too far from me. Within a split second I realized what I see: a grown wolf! Yellow with a dull red and gray, a big, bushy tail. No question, bigger than a German shepherd. He or she just trotted through the underbrush, in no hurry, without making a sound, effortless.

How long had this magnificent animal observed me, struggling through the snow? Was it a lone wolf? Don’t they always travel in packs? What if? Did I stand a chance? I just had a camera, not even a pocket knife. Movie clips went through my head. I watched my back.

The silent encounter lasted for a second or two.

I am happy for this brief moment.

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“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

blue ice

blue ice

Spring in Alaska is a gentle affair. The last couple of days started with crystal clear skies and cold temperatures. Just before sunrise it is usually the coldest, single digits or below. As soon as the sun climbs above the horizon around 8:45 AM the temperature rises and climbs near 32F. The snow becomes soft and melts in exposed areas. Icicles dangling from the corners of our roofs start dripping. At certain angles the illusion of colors appear. White and blue are still the dominant hues.

red ice

red ice

My bell pepper seeds have germinated. The first pair of leaves have appeared. I believe it is time to move them to the green house, at least during the day.

Spring #2

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One Man's Paradise

Spring

Pussy willows

Pussy willows

Spring is here and everywhere.

The willows had pushed their flowers during the warm spell in January and they were just frozen in time. Morning temperatures are still below zero, during the day it warms up to 25 Fahrenheit. The sun rises way above Puntilla Mountain. It is getting downright toasty in our main room that has large South facing windows.

Icicles reaching the ground have formed on some corners of our roofs.

So spring is here, not quite shorts weather, yet, and no other spring flowers, besides the errant pussy willows, but we notice the gradual changes.

 

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