Sunday, December 18, 2016

Almost to Winter Solstice in Seward on a Sunday Night

Alaska Sealife Center's Christmas tree lights the waterfront
Seward's Christmas Tree high on Bear Mountain appears as a distant star above Tony's Bar
Seward's Downtown - 4th Street looking north

We've been taking Sundays as our Sabbath day, a day of rest and recuperation, a day to do whatever we want. We start Sundays with our group run, meeting up at Resurrection Art on 3rd, a cafe that many refer to as Seward's living room. We did that today. Five of us jogged out Lowell Point Road, around the loop at the end of the road, and then back again. On the way out, we saw a pair of sea lions and many birds. Reed jokingly tried to identify them, as yesterday had been Seward's "Christmas Bird Count" and we'd enthusiastically listening as one of our new friends described the birds that his crew had seen the day before. "One crow" said Reed.

After our hour's run we proceeded over to the American Legion with our new friend, Jamie, who's in the Coast Guard. The Legion was hosting a public hot breakfast of eggs, pancakes, bacon and biscuits and sausage gravy. I luxuriated in the meal, breakfast being my favorite combo of food options. We enjoyed a bit of conversation about Seward's Christmas tree, high on Bear Mountain. It had been slow in getting lit this year. I had learned at City Council that the wiring up to the tree had been vandalized, and it took a long-time Sewardite's actions to get it back in operational order. Now it shines down on Seward, casting an encouragement to us in the darkness of winter, where we start and end our days in thick darkness.

This evening I decided to take a leisurely walk around town. The air is crisp and fresh, just 35 degrees farenheit outside. It's warmed up quite a bit in the last few days. Our streets and sidewalks are now a sloppy, slushy mess. The wind has picked up speed throughout the day. I delighted in the fact that I could easily walk to the post office (dropped off a letter), the library (dropped off some DVDs) and walk Seward's waterfront path, all in a leisurely paced 20 minutes. What a fantastic place to live & how fortunate to be home, snug on the couch in our tiny home, with everything that I need. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

How Winter is Shaping Up: October & November in Seward, Alaska

3 Historical Forces in Seward: WW2 Era Quonset Hut, AVTEC (red building) & Mount Marathon

Winter Night Hiking on the Lost Lake Trail

This winter we've been living in Seward, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula, at the head of Resurrection Bay. It's a deep fjord, with tall mountains on either side. As newbies to Seward, we've been hesitant to get out on the hiking trails since the snows have begun sticking. Even so, it's been fantastic to be able to run around town twice a week thus far, and we've been out on a couple of hiking trails that are closer to home. 

There's not many hours or much intensity to the sun this time of year, and each day gets less light, until December 22nd. We are looking forward to that change, to when daylight hours start to lengthen. Even so, we've been doing all right. In late October & early November, I started to get anxious about the increasing darkness and marked a countdown onto our daily calendar. We started forcing ourselves up and out, even when it was still dark in the mornings. We committed to doing running group twice a week, starting and ending at Resurrection Art Coffee Shop, considered by some to be "Seward's living room." It's helped! As of today, there are 17 more days of increasing darkness and then the cycle reverses itself.
Mount Marathon's Jeep Trail on a snowy day

Alaska Sea Life Center parking lot in winter

Seward has proven to be a friendly small town, just the kind of place for which we hoped. When we left Seattle last spring, we knew that we were headed for Denali, to work the season. Beyond that, we didn't know where we'd be going, or what would come next. Our choice to leave the city was terrifying, and exciting. And then we were on the road, in various incantations, for about 18 months. What a relief that Seward is proving a great place to make our home. So here we are, living and learning the area and the people. Each day has its own chores assigned to it, something I remember was true of the Laura Ingalls family out on the American Frontier. Today is Sunday, which we honor by making it our day of rest. The idea is that we do the things that revive our spirits on Sundays. Today we did running group in the morning, followed by more than an hour at Resurrection Art, drinking coffee and visiting and reading the Anchorage newspaper. Then we walked the three blocks to home, took hot baths and ate a hot lunch. 

Winter life in Alaska has a slower pace, especially for those of us who work mostly seasonally. I'll be starting work at Providence Mountain Haven long term care facility tomorrow, where I hope to work 2-3 days per week going forward. And I've begun writing for Seward City News, an online newspaper / magazine / blog. This has afforded me the opportunity to be out and about around town, meeting, interviewing and photographing people and places. Our life here is developing slowly and steadily, and so far, it's a great life with kind people welcoming us into the community. 

Today it's 20 degrees out, windy with tremendous gusts that shake our tiny home and cause trembling sounds from outside. The sky was clear, the ground frozen and the cafe warm. Life is good.

Third Avenue looking north towards Resurrection Bay