The solstice has passed, New Year’s resolutions have already been broken (by most), January 10th (see: “Feeling Festive, Sort of” post) has come and gone without any notice, event, or celebration, and as my friend Chris and I left the gym at at 4:45p.m. yesterday, we noticed there was still the slightest hint of light in the western sky! We’re making progress!!
So, HAPPY 2011 all! The new year was kicked off for me here in Sitka with a rather “typical” celebration with a few friends at the Pour House here in town. Live music and drinks were enjoyed, the countdown was yelled by all, kisses on the cheek were given all around, and . . . everything felt the exact same as before. Which is why I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. Doesn’t midnight happen every day? Anyway…
Work has been work, which tells you almost nothing, especially because I’ve never really taken the time to write about it on my blog. But I will, one day, with a bit more detail. In short, I’m feeling a good rhythm there recently and finding a better balance of my life vs. the lives of the people I serve. In the beginning it was hard not to “take work home” with me or get wrapped up in the details of sticky situations at the shelter, especially in this small town where you’re bound to be confronted by or run into some of the people you hear about and try to help.
Three of my housemates traveled home to visit their families after Christmas, so those of us who were left behind enjoyed a quiet house and some much needed downtime after the holiday crazies. Having recently celebrated my five month anniversary here in Sitka (apparently I’m all about monthly anniversaries in new places!), I find myself in a comfortable situation, knowing people in town, stopping on the street to talk, chatting with acquaintances at the bar (while watching Zags games, don’t worry, I’m not a regular!!), and enjoying a routine that has emerged.
More excitingly, I have attempted to take advantage of the daylight hours as best I can with hikes on the weekends. Last Sunday, Nick and I felt the need to wake our quad muscles from their dormant state, so we took on Gavan Hill (again, hill in Alaska = mountain in the lower 48). After reaching the 500 foot elevation marker we cursed the sign and swore we had surely gained more than 500 feet already. Then came the 1000 foot sign which offered us a bit of hope as it has gone slightly faster than the first 500 feet. And by the time we reached the lookout, a little over half way to the top, we were beginning to feel a bit more capable. The top of the ridge was BEAUTIFUL and chilly, and, due to the quickly diminishing daylight, was only enjoyed it for about 10 minutes. But so worth it, just look at it!
While having our little break at the top, Nick and I enjoyed perhaps the best satsuma either of us had ever tasted in our whole lives. We pondered if it was the orange itself, the view, the sun, the snow, or some combination of these factors that contributed to the truly incredible satisfaction received from eating that satsuma.
Finally, I have come up with a theory these past couple months as I’ve been adjusting to, not only life in Alaska, but life on an island, that it really is crucial for my mental wellbeing for me to get off this island approximately every two months. The actual town of Sitka takes up very little of Baranof Island, most of it remains inaccessible by car (which I don’t have anyway), so much of my life can seem as though it revolves around the 10 square blocks that I stroll through from work, to home, to the store, to home, to the beach, etc. Though I really love having everything so close and walking most everywhere I go, I have come to the important conclusion that it really is necessary to get off this island to a place where more than 14 miles of continuous road exist. Seeing as I returned from Seattle on November 14, I will be leaving tomorrow, January 13! I’m headed to Anchorage to, let’s be honest, see a boy, Braden, a JV there this year. Since it’s so mild in Sitka during the winter, I thought it best to travel somewhere colder to ensure that I was in fact getting a proper dose of Alaskan winter. The forecast is for a high of 1 degree on Friday. Fantastic. Assuming I don’ t have frostbite that causes loss of fingers, I’ll be sure to report on the trip. Thank you all for the letters, calls, and thoughtful reminders of your presence in my life during the holidays!