Monday, November 17, 2008

A Beautiful Place



It really is beautiful here in Kenai, both the area in general and the spot where our house is located. I can’t imagine a more restful and healing view to gaze at while recovering from surgery than this lovely image of mountains and sky. Sometimes the clouds obscure all of it, but when they clear, Oh! They take your breath away. I can watch for hours as the light shifts on the face of the mountains while the sun moves in a low arc across the southern sky.


October and, so far, November, have proceeded as they were planned. Jody and I managed (thanks mostly to Jody) to finish up in Bethel on schedule. We even had time to squeeze in a steam bath at Henry’s on our last night there. The last bunch of packing and mailing happened, gifts were distributed to friends, utilities and services terminated, everything taken care of.


We showed up at Alaska Airlines for our one-way trip to Anchorage with a large and motley assortment of belongings which Jody had creatively packed in three 33-gallon Rubbermaid trashcans with the lids strapped and duck-taped on, and a burn barrel made from the tub of an old washing machine and packed with tools and stuff. We had regular suitcases too, but the trashcans and burn barrel were an outstanding element there in the Alaska terminal. We handed them up for weighing and checking in, and the gate agents never raised an eyebrow.

“What??” Jody said to them. “We don’t even get a smile for this? We’re packed in trashcans and a burn barrel, for goodness’ sake!”

The agent just shrugged and said “Hey, this is Bethel. We’ve pretty much seen it all around here.”

My friend Joan, who was there to see us off, took a photo to commemorate the trashcan departure.

Leaving Bethel for the last time was very bittersweet. I know I will be back, so it was not really the last time, but it was the last time I would leave as a Bethel resident. When Jody and I landed there the week before, it already felt different. For the first time ever, it did not feel like coming home. Watching the town grow small as the plane lifted off felt like a door closing, the end of an era.

Ten years. I grew and changed a lot in that time. I went from the emotional wasteland of an ill-fated, never-should-have-happened, emotionally abusive relationship to the lush garden of the soul-mated love that I share with Dutch. I was married for the first and only time in my life, right there in Bethel. I became a writer, something I’ve worked toward my whole life, but never managed to accomplish. I created this blog, which is something I am proud of. In the two-plus years of its existence, I have written essays on a wide variety of subjects concerning bush medicine and Yupik culture. Even in the last six weeks, when I have not written a single word, the blog continues to capture seven to eight hundred hits per week, just from people searching the internet for subjects related to things I’ve written about. That is truly satisfying to me.

I will go back to Bethel to work and to visit dear friends there, but it won’t be the same as living there. I won’t be a member of the club anymore. Bethelites have an esprit d’ corp that comes from surviving the isolating location and harsh winter weather. If you only come to visit, it doesn’t include you.

But I will look forward to those visits, because Bethel will always be special to me. In its own way, it is also a beautiful place. Bethel forever changed my life, in ways which were all good. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Photos by The Tundra PA.
1. The Alaska Range at sunset, from the mouth of the Kenai River
2. Mt. Redoubt, from my deck.
3. Mt. Illiamna, from my deck.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're back online. I've missed reading about the Tundra PA.

Monday, November 17, 2008 6:06:00 PM  
Anonymous summerbreezy said...

Yeah!! Theres my friend! About time you started up again-we've been wondering how you were doing! By the way, you will always 'belong' wherever we are...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 7:28:00 AM  
Anonymous kuskomama said...

glad you're back TPA! -3F in Bethel today. Hope you're warmer on the peninsula!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 3:40:00 PM  
Blogger RunninL8 said...

The Kenai IS gorgeous , isn't it! The view from your deck!!! WOW!
Happy to read that things are well with you. It's wonderful to be able to look back at the past with such fondness for the good times as well as not so good. And to have a wonderful future to look foward to!
Glad you are still around in the blogosphere as well!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:57:00 PM  
Blogger indigo said...

Welcome back!! So nice to catch your voice again over the ether. I am guessing you have had the hip replacement as you mentioned Kenai and the surrounding country being a nice place to heal. Hope all goes well with that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 6:30:00 PM  
Blogger What's next said...

I stumbled on your blog today and it has now consumed most of my morning reading it. I was born in Alaska and haven't been back since I was very litte...growing up in Gulport Ms area...I still have a yearning to go back to alaska one day...my kids say that's why I hate summer so much...
thanks for a good morning of reading.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 6:54:00 AM  
Blogger The Tundra PA said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments. It is good to be back writing, I need to do more.

What's Next--welcome! So glad you found and are enjoying the blog. Such a small world--I grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, graduated high school there back in the day. Have not been back since Katrina, and don't want to; I couldn't bear to see it all flattened. I've seen photos. Hope you are out of the devastation. Thanks for visiting, and for commenting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 8:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne R G said...

On this cold (for e TN) morning, I was browsing my favorite blogs, and was thrilled to find that you have posted again. I hope all your healing goes well, and you make yourself a home in your new place, and will feel like sharing your thoughts again. I love your stories.
Dianne

Sunday, November 23, 2008 5:38:00 AM  
Blogger PDXRN said...

OH I just let out a little yelp of happiness that you are back up and writing. It has been so sad for the last month or so to see the same Bethel Photo, stuck in time. For a while I thought you might be thinking of not continuing but oh joy! You are back. As i drove around the Kenai and Soldotna area at the end of Aug. (for work), I was thinking of you and hoping all the moving, traveling, separation sadness and overwhelmed by the change was not getting you down. Also I have learned so much from you on the blog about the challenges when it comes to healthcare in rural Alaska. Your observations have giving me insight that helps me in my current job/role. So Good thoughts are coming your way. Hope you will "catch" them. I will be in ANC, SIT and JNU in the next few weeks so even closer good vibes. Happy TG to you and your sweetie!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 10:22:00 AM  

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