The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
I think we all know that I like summer in Alaska. I have joked that Alaska summer is like a seasonal boyfriend — puppy love. I love introducing people to summer, like “have I told you about my boyfriend, Alaska summer? He’s the most amazing.”
Like a vacation fling, summer makes me feel amazing. And it loves me back. I feel happy, healthy, energized. I want this one-season relationship to last forever, but like every one-season fling, it tapers off. The fires dies a little. You see him in the normal places less and less. And then just like that, he’s gone.
We’re in the less and less phase and almost gone here in Alaska, summer and I. And I won’t lie — it’s a little sad. I spent several days in Dallas Texas this week where people are still melting into summer puddles daily thanks to some really incredible temperatures — it was 105 and so humid when I got there. And I was so warm, maybe too warm, and happy.
And then I came home where the leaves are yellowing — theres no pretending otherwise. The high alpine has been changing colors on the mountains for weeks. The termination dust, that first sprinkling of snow that signals the termination of the season that appeared shockingly early in mid July is now sticking and there’s no denying it. The fireweed has stopped flowering and is red. The state fair is going on. It’s raining – so much rain.
It’s easy to be sad about the changing of seasons, and sadness has a place. It’s an important part of moving through feelings.
But then I found a moment with a perspective shift.
Another hallmark of changing times is that it’s now really, truly dark when I get up in the morning at 4 a.m. — yes I know that’s stupid early but it works for me. In the summer my morning routine includes climbing into the hot tub in the early morning for about 15 minutes before work. For months every year — May through early August — I never see darkness during my normal waking hours. And that means I never see night stuff.
The day I left for Dallas I grabbed a few minutes out there, and as I looked up I saw them:
The stars. The stars are back. There, right above my head, stood Ursa Major, a portion of which you might know as the Big Dipper. It’s the same constellation pictured on the Alaska State Flag, and an easy and friendly one to spot in the night sky.
“Oh hello star friends!” I found myself saying out loud. I’m so very glad to see you.
And suddenly I wasn’t so sad about the changing seasons anymore. In that one moment I remembered the many things I love about the non-summer seasons, the dark sky star viewing from the ski trails or my hot tub, the cross country ski adventures with friends, the cozy cabin trips, the bundled-up walks through woods, the slower life pace and even the welcomed warm trip out of state mid-winter.
I remembered gratitude for the many varied and wonderful things that I have found outside thanks to spending consistent time there, even when it threatens to be less pleasant. And not unlike the wrapping of a warm coat on a cold day, that feeling warmed me.
I hope no matter what season — both literal and figurative — you are going through right now you can both honor the losses and find gratitude for the changes and new perspective. Gratitude makes all the difference.
I didnt take many pictures outside this week because I spent a lot of it in Dallas for a work-related event and either simply didn’t take out my phone during walks or chats with friends on patios, or left it behind completely during my daily morning runs. But i did take a few outdoor photos where I look fancier than normal aka wearing real clothes not Alaska outside clothes, so that’s new and different. And there’s always the chance to see photos of my other adventures and outdoor moments. You can find them on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see your photos too, so share them with #humansoutside365.
Until next time we’ll see you out there.