Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Embracing a Change in the Weather

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Embracing a Change in the Weather

Article excerpt

I have watched the snow fall all weekend, part of me enjoying its soft, white beauty, another part wishing it would go away and come back in another month or two. I'm not ready to embrace winter; mid-October is too early for a major snowstorm, even in Alaska. So I keep my distance. Except for short walks to get the newspaper and mail, I remain inside the house all of Saturday and much of Sunday. Yet my attention inevitably drifts outside, as the snow piles ever higher. At times it falls as large, fluffy flakes; at other times it's a fine, mist-like presence.

Four inches cover the ground by mid-morning Saturday, 10 inches by nightfall, 16 inches by Sunday morning. Television weather people say the storm is caused by the meeting of two strong weather fronts: a mass of cold and dry Arctic air has collided over south-central Alaska with wet, warmer air from the Gulf of Alaska. I wonder how long they'll be mixing it up overhead, and recall that only one week earlier I'd been immersed in Indian summer.

Walking along Chugach State Park's Turnagain Arm Trail on a blue-sky afternoon, I'd entered a forest that glowed with golds and yellows. From forest-floor patches of devil's club to the highest reaches of cottonwoods and birches, the entire forest radiated warmth and brightness. The reds, oranges and purples of fireweed, wild prickly rose, and high-bush cranberry added to the fiery mix: rich October colors on an August-like day. Carrying the sweet-sour pungency of autumn's decay, the air was warm enough for me to shed my jacket and comfortably walk in shirtsleeves; warm enough, too, for swarms of gnats and other insects to engage in wild, swirling dances along the trail and among the trees. It was quiet enough to hear leaves falling to the ground, the distant call of a chickadee, the footsteps of a mouse. Gradually my mind quieted as well, busy thoughts giving way to an awareness and appreciation of forest and warmth. I dawdled on my way back to the trailhead, willing to be late for dinner so that I might savor this serenity and somehow store it away for future recall. NOW, as I watch my world turn white, that walk already seems like an ancient memory. …

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