Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
It’s the time of year that I have a hard time.
I’ve been feeling in a funk and I couldn’t really put my finger on why. I was grumpy. I was mad about the weather. I was annoyed that it was cold. I couldn’t think of anything to go do or enjoy outside. Ugh. What do I even wear? Why do I live where it’s cold in September? WHY.
Isn’t it funny how our moods and life are so tied up in weather? And why is it that getting dressed or acclimating to the cold falls out of my brain? Why does it suddenly feel so hard? And why couldn’t I find the joy I feel for each day outside inside me when I went hunting for it this week?
It wasn’t until I was driving home and was listening to a local NPR outdoor show when I finally understood what was happening.
First I need to tell you what’s been happening here. Usually it’ll be in the 40s and low 50s or so here this time of year, changing leaves and all sorts of spectacular colors. We’ll get overnight frosts and then a big wind will come through for a few days and blow all the leaves down. More and more frost will happen, until towards mid October when it snows. That’s fall. It’s lovely and not long enough.
That is not what happened this year. Instead, we had the beginnings of that — and then suddenly snow. And not just a little snow in some areas around here — a LOT of snow. I’ve seen pictures of people up skiing and sledding in the surrounding mountains through PLENTY of it. I’ve heard many people who have lived here a long time note that this is the earliest they remember ever seeing snow.
The changing of the seasons is like a sad break up to me. And it wasn’t until I heard someone label it in this outdoor show that I realized that what I was feeling was a sense of loss.
When I thought about it a little I realized that this happens every year, but more spread out. This year, because the snow came so quickly and suddenly on what was actually the last day of summer according to the calendar, I felt it more acutely.
I know what to wear in cold weather. I know the things I enjoy doing. I know how to layer my clothes, how to keep my hands warm, the best way to keep my feet toasty. I know what’s comfortable. I know how to get outside. But for two weeks my brain goes numb while I mourn the loss of summer.
I confessed some of this in one of my daily photos, and got a little roasted on social media for it. One commenter told me that “Alaskans roll with the season,” the implication of which I took to be that I wasn’t.
But I don’t believe anyone universally rolls with the seasons. I think it’s human to feel a sense of loss and sadness over change, and I don’t think anyone is immune to that. And so as the seasons change I am allowing myself to sit in that sadness a little bit — name and it claim it. I am sad that the summer is over. I am happy that I got to experience all it had for me. Winter will be great in other ways. But for right now, in this moment, I am acknowledging that I miss the sun and the warmth. And that’s OK. Winter is great. But winter requires me to hunt for the good a little more, to try a little harder, to WANT it. And I am determined to get there. But for right now, I’m sitting in this.
Since this is a very human sort of thing, I think maybe you’ll feel this way too at some point. You had a fabulous season. And now it’s changing because that’s what seasons do. You miss those things. You’re open to embracing different things. But let’s not rush there. Let’s not pretend that saying – hey, I miss the things that were – is a problem. And that’s true with outdoor life. It’s true with indoor life. It’s true with everything.
After I’ve acknowledged that what I’m feeling is a sense of loss and sat in that for a minute, I can get ready to embrace the change. I can take purposeful steps to remind myself of the things I do like in the new season. I can take a few moments to make plans for my outdoor time, to get excited about possibilities. I can embrace the change while acknowledging that it doesn’t have to be the same as what I just experienced to be good — different is ok. Different can be good, too.
And that’s what I’m doing right now — leaning into different, leaning into being OK with changes. This weekend I took a work trip up to the Matanuska Glacier and did another group glacier tour, something I just love doing. It’s such a uniquely Alaska experience that is amazing summer, fall or winter and helped get my attitude right. There was quite a lot of snow near there, and I busted out my snow boots for the first time this year. I remembered I really like those boots. I wasn’t as comfortable as I am in the summer, but the sun was still out.
Different is OK. It’s just different. And it’s OK to feel like change is hard.
You can see a photo from that glacier visit, plus pictures and Reels from all of my outdoor time on Facebook and Instagram. I’m even now posting two videos a week on IGTV, talking about the podcast episodes and having a little extra chat with you. I hope you’ll share your outdoor time with me.
Until next time, we’ll see you out there.