It’s been six weeks since I moved to this Southeast Alaskan rainforest. This small town is nestled on the edge of an island consumed mostly by the rock and forest of the Tongass National Forest.
I have had opportunity to wander into its borders by way of paths and trails, rarely stepping off for fear of sinking knee deep into the surrounding muck. The scenery brings countless varieties of moss, ground cover and giant first and second-growth trees. Shaded by hemlock and cedar, the bushes grow offering up their edible berries and neon colors.
The light here is magical. I rise early in the morning, catching my first glimpses of the Narrows at 6 a.m. and the sun is already above Deer Mountain, showing its light to the island across the water and bathing the town in sunlight. The air is still cool though and I open all my windows to let the breeze wake up the apartment and clear away the sleep.
Most days are overcast, negating the need for sunglasses or vision-obscuring hats. It allows for a spectacular picture because faces and spaces are absent of harsh shadows. Though my equipment is subpar and, even in the short while I’ve lived here, I have discovered the need for a faster camera lens. (To accommodate this I’ll be trying to save my pennies in hopes I’ll be able to afford one around Christmas.)
The community arts director recently said to me, “If you notice when the sun isn’t shining how many greens there are outside from neon green all the way to the deep dark mysterious green,” she said. I wholeheartedly agree with her. Since our conversation a few weeks ago, I have been more aware of the color, especially the green, since it is everywhere.
Literally, it is everywhere. Even the cement is green, playing host to various types of moss and plants that find ways to grow out of rock.
But in all this green and lush beauty, part of me misses the desert. The sand and dry heat that sinks in and warms my insides. The Joshua trees of Southern California and the bright orange poppies that blanket the hillsides in spring. I even miss the Utah desert. The red rocks and scrub oaks are calling my name, I can just feel it.
Though I sometimes wonder if what I am missing most are the memories and comfort that comes when you are someplace familiar. It seems that I am off on this great Alaskan adventure, determined to stick it out and at least really learn how to fish while I am here. But I find that I miss the warmth.
I haven’t missed the Mojave Desert in maybe… ever. I have missed the home I grew up in and has since been sold for new small children to live in and explore buried treasures in the backyard. But it wasn’t until moving to this lush, green rock in Alaska that I truly missed the dry, hot, vast expanse that is the desert. I miss being able to see for miles.
While I was in Connecticut a couple years ago I exclaimed that I had never seen so many trees, a statement that drew laughter after every retelling. That experience has been severely dwarfed by my current one.
And I miss my friends. They are all camping and boiling in the summer heat and I am unbelievably jealous.
A dear friend recently reminded me that the grass is always greener on the other side. But I think she meant to say sagebrush.
The sagebrush is always greener on the other side.