Chasing Alaskan Twilight

Only two weeks since I last pounded the Anchorage pavement and what a difference! Bright green lawns, the dirty piles of snow finally melted into dusty trails along the sides of the roads, the floatplane harbor ice-free for the season, and the arctic terns once again partying in Potter Marsh for their annual bacchanal of breeding.

I am not here for sightseeing or exploration. This is a gathering of the family to celebrate the life of my aunt and guide each other through the surreal, but humanly beautiful process of grief. Just being here, in the embrace of the mountains, has already fed my spirit.

I joined my parents in a walk around my cousin’s neighborhood, the sun glaring so brightly I lamented forgetting my sunscreen in the flurry of last minute packing. I should know better – Greenland and Alaska have both painfully taught me how quickly the intense Arctic sun can sizzle my skin. In my defense, this is the spring transition, those first weeks of leap-frogging hours of daylight that catch you by surprise after the long dark winter. Suddenly the sun sets well past bedtime and twilight extends the magic hour even longer.

This extreme tilt of the Earth has set and reset and upset my biological clock. I went from a Wisconsin thaw to a sudden burst of Alaska sunlight, back to Wisconsin in the baby steps of spring, and once more to Alaska – all in the space of four weeks.

Sorry brain. You’ll figure it out eventually.

I love flying into Anchorage at night this time of the year. We took off from Minneapolis through the dazzling show of a nighttime supercell thunderstorm (safely just off to the north – what a show from above!), soared into the inky blackness, and chased the blue haze of twilight across the arc of the polar north. It’s amazing how vibrant this layer of bluish-green light is, setting off the curvature of the earth’s horizon. As we landed into Anchorage just past midnight, the deep red-brown twinge of sunset still outlined the mountains out the window.

Maybe this play of physics that bends the light and aurora borealis in such beautiful displays is why my grandfather titled one of his books of poems “God Has Been Northwards Always.”*

At least for this weekend, so is my heart.

*Note: My grandfather Oliver P. Everette was poet laureate of Alaska from 1965-67.

About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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