Archive for December 3rd, 2006

Well, I had a very short night.  Or, I should say, a long night and a short morning.  All this reminiscing has been keeping me awake at night. 

I am so excited about this series of posts, and I was trying to figure out how to organize it so it would make sense to my fearless readers.  I have no plan.  Should it be chronological?  How about grouped according to subject matter?  Hmm.  Perhaps I should tell the most amusing first.  Anyway,  I was lying there not sleeping, snuggling up with Jim under the down comforter and thinking, “Should I talk about this?  What about that?  Ooh, do I want my mother to read this?  Do I want my CLIENTS to read this????”  The tone of my thoughts was getting more panicked and shrill the longer the train of thought got.


After a certain amount of running events through my head and trying to put them into some logical order, the next idea pattern that emerged was “How in the holy hell did I do all this stuff and still get straight A’s?  Well, the 3.87 GPA, then.”  Stunned, awed silence in the cavern of my cranium.  “I know I slept too, every night.  Well, almost every night.”

So, at this point I have a story but I have no plan.  I mean, I could just talk about what I have been cogitating on today.  What came to mind as Jeri and I were walking down the the river this afternoon?  Incidentally, the rain/sleet/snow storm  we just had brought the river up to almost full bank.  It has dropped five feet since then.

Well, since we were walking down the hill on the snow covered sheet of frozen rain and sleet, what came to mind was learning to ski.  I learned more than once.  When we lived in Colorado, we used to downhill ski at Eldora Ski Area.  I even took night lessons when I was in 10th grade after they invested in flood lights.  These lessons were undertaken to restore the confidence that I lost when I broke my leg skiing when I was in 5th grade.   Later on, during the Alaska Years, I learned to cross country ski.

My cross country skiing teacher was also a boyfriend, one P.W., a preacher’s son from somewhere in the Lower 48 (That is what we called the continental United States up in the Northlands of Alaska.)  He was majoring in something, I really can’t remember what but it was something like Political Science or History or some damn thing.  I met him in philosophy class, which means it must have been during my junior year.  He was pretty good looking, tallish, around 6 feet, slender.  He had dark hair, a sort of squared off jaw, brown eyes.  He seemed intelligent, did the required reading for class, and talked well.  Actually, he was a master of bullshit too.  Figures, since he was a grad student working on a PhD (which we all know means “Piled higher and deeper).

I had a certain amount of “experience” by then, and the second I walked into his room and saw the 6 foot wide reproduction of Hieronymous Boesch’s altar tryptich, the name of which escapes me right now, I should have walked right back out.  Wings should have sprouted under my heels when he told me that Boesch was his favorite artist of all time.   In retrospect, I can see how that indicated our relationship was doomed before it began. 

Think about what sort of fantasies an admirer of that piece must have!  Man, NEVER have sex with a guy hung up on Hieronymous Boesch.  I’m not going to go into gory detail.  I will only quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s play “Happy Birthday Wanda June” (which the theatre department staged during the time I was hanging out with the students enrolled in it):  “No woman is a fan of premature ejactulation.” 

It turns out I was one of those women.  I especially did not enjoy being blamed for it, and the thing that really peeved me was the gentleman’s unwillingness to use his imagination and assist me in experiencing the boon of the orgasm he had just had.  After all, I was a good girl, right?  I should not, in my angelic being, actually enjoy the act of fornication, right?  Only bad girls liked sex. 

Well, shit!   I was a bad girl, in fact I was a selfish girl, and not only that I had standards.  You got about one and a half chances to be a great partner to me.  If you weren’t, I moved on.  There were plenty of candidates out there, and I can testify that guys who haven’t had sex for three years are very grateful. 

Okay, so PW and I broke up, and I may just tell the whole story of that evening, someday. We didn’t have that scene before he taught me to ski however, and  I have always been grateful to him for that.  Over the course of years, it allowed to me  to be in a place where I got to see one of the most outrageously beautiful things I have ever seen.  Sorry, no photos from that day exist.

After Peter and I got married and built our cabin in the woods, we started exploring the area.  We both had skiied the UA ski trails, which wound through some of the most lovely hills and past pretty frozen ponds.  So we were anxious to discover the Goldstream Valley.

Over the course of time, we laid out a very nice trail that followed a moose trail out to the muskeg pond, down its windy little outlet and onto the frozen creek itself.  The trail followed the creek down to another spot where there was a moose/wolf trail down a little defile where we would climb up out of the creek bed itself and then circle back to the spot where we originally left the road.   It was a great little ski, took about 45 minutes to do.  Once we did it by the full moonlight.  That was incredibly magical, and we saw two moose that night.  These are incredibly silent animals considering how very large they are.  Despite the wonder of that night, we decided that, for future notice,  -45 was too cold to ski.  Even though there was no wind, just the breeze created by our own speed made frostbitten cheeks an issue.

But one afternoon, it was a weekend, I’m sure, we looked out on the fresh 8 inches of snow and said, “It is not that cold!  Lets take the dogs and run the creek.”  We brought our skis in the house to wax them.  Immediately the two dogs went ballistic.  They loved to go skiing, and if we planned to ski on the university ski trails, where there were no dogs allowed, we put them in their kennel before we touched the skis.   Even so we had to suffer the wounded, sulking eyes of the forlorn dogs as we loaded up the car.

We set off down the hill, followed the road and dove off the road bed into the muskeg area that flanked it there.  (For those of you who do not know what muskeg is, I will be providing a description of it at a later time.)  Off we went through hillocks of grass, past the twisted black spruces and alder clumps to the pond cradled in the middle of the muskeg meadow.  It was a frozen expanse of flat snow that day.  The sun began to dip towards the horizon, in the slow motion dance to dusk that the arctic regions give you.

The angle of descent is so shallow, you get sunrise and sunset colors for hours instead of minutes.  We continued on our way, and descended to the creek.   We skied along the boulevard it made as it twisted its sinuous way towards the Chena River, miles away.  We were surrounded by birches and spruces, all decked in their covering of snow. 

Fairbanks snow is not like any snow I have ever experienced before.  It is so light, so crystalline it will make a small shattering sound as the huge fluffy flakes hit the ground as they float in response to the pull of the Earth’s gravity.  I have seen it fall in such still air that it piles up three inches deep on top of twigs an eighth of an inch wide. 

It was that sort of day, so still and cold.   All those thin piles of snow everywhere had a translucence and a burden of crystals that caught the setting sun colors and the whole woods just glowed.   The bigger clumps of snow on the evergreens glowed, and everywhere the sun hit was spangled.  The whole world glittered; everywhere you looked was golden pink accented with rainbows. When we stopped to take a breather, all we could hear was chickadee chatter and the panting of our happy dogs.  I breathed in unearthly peace and beauty.

Sometimes I wonder what on earth made me move away from there.

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