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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
I had a conversation with the leaves on the trees near my back porch last night. I’ve been hanging out with these particular leaves since they were just an idea. The tree’s branches waves and whistled in the wind, cold and bare. And then, as the winter months slowly passed, a hint of something started to happen up there. Pretty soon I could buds stretching reddish black out, peeking at the sky. The buds grew and grew longer, until one day the tiniest bit of green started to unfold from the tree.
It was a week or so later when these leaves arrived, and there they’ve been, dancing in the breeze and sunning themselves in the wonderful Alaska light ever since.
It’s late July, which means these leaves and i should have at least 6 months more weeks together before they start to yellow, and then cascade down to the ground as a final farewell. Six weeks is a lot of sunshine and warmth when you spend all winter waiting for that kind of thing. It’s six more weeks of rustling breath in the wind. It’s six more weeks of my bones being warmed by the sun while the leaves do their own sighing.
But then something happened that makes me think the clock is running faster than i should be.
This week there was new snow on the mountains. And I noticed that the alpine high up on the sides of nearby peaks is starting to yellow. These are not signs of forever summer.
Now, I know that people would prefer that I not directly talk about the snow on the mountains. Ignore it, maybe it will go away. Heck I would prefer that, too. But I’m not sure not talking about something will make it go away, so here we are.
In Northern places like Alaska that sprinkling of new snow on the highest peaks is called termination dust, and it signals the termination of summer and the start of, well, not summer. When it snuck onto some peaks early this week it was gone by mid-day, and we all concluded it was definitely a false alarm. Maybe we decided that because we can’t handle the truth. Because yes, mid-July seems very early for such things. Late August, perhaps. After school starts. Better yet, early September. But July?
But I have to tell you — it’s come back again several times. And today it was a little farther down some of the coolest spots. They are far away spots, but I can see them. And it has me worried about my leaves.
Because I am categorically not ready for summer to end. I have things to do. Miles to run. Mountains to hike. I have sun to sit in and morning light to enjoy.
And that’s basically what I told the leaves on the tree. Please, please don’t go yet. I’m not ready to say goodbye to you. It’s not time. We aren’t done here.
So I’m feeling a little fire lit under me to make the most of the longer days and the sunlight, to get outside even in the torrential downpours we’ve had this last week — so much rain that it canceled a major mountain race because the river is too high.
This time next week — that is, if I live to tell about it — my outdoor diary will be a race report of my 50 mile race over Resurrection Pass. This is the same trail on which I attempted 100 miles last year and the race I’ve been putting in training miles to do this year. Send some no rain good vibes and prayers, because your girl would rather not be running wet and cold for 10 plus hours.
You can see photos of all of my outdoor time — including coming soon photos from that race on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see yours too. Share them with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.