a perfect alaskan weekend

A fun evening with old and new friends.  Such a motley crew of people, who would never be found sitting around the same table except in Alaska on a summer evening while towering spruces sway in the blowing rain and wind outside.  Talking about all manner of things, in a cocoon of the tiny radius of human community in the vast expanse of nature.  It felt so familiar to me, but so good, that I wanted to remember how to see it from the outside.  Thinking: I want to remember this.

The next day I hiked up a mountain with a friend in the pouring rain and howling wind.  We sat at the top of the world while the wind whistled around us, sounding like it would blow us right off the exposed shoulder of the mountain.  I could have sat there forever, watching the obscuring waves of rain moving toward us from the horizon, ridgelines disappearing and reappearing in the mist.  The wind leaving its footprints on the landscape.  I want to bring everyone I know up there, to sit with our backs to the 50-mph wind, to watch the rain come toward us in sheets and the wind blow patterns on the ocean; to see the contrast between flashes of bright sun, barely muffled by cloud, and the dark gray impending horizon.  To be a person with a beating heart, sitting on the shoulder of a mountain, cradled by the bigness of the air.

With fresh air in my lungs, raindrops assaulting the hood of my jacket, my feet sucked into holes of mud, I thought: life is so sweet.  I felt so keenly alive and aware, so surrounded by good things, that the idea of someday dying and leaving this behind was unfathomable.  When life is perfect, when I am so solidly on this earth and so solidly in my body, it seems so tender, so beautiful, so fragile and improbable.  Who gets to do this?  Who gets to experience this forest, this natural beauty, this powerful wind and rain?  Who gets to be alive?

This is what I love about Alaska: nothing is the way it would be in my imagined perfect world, but the good things are way better.

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