Snow fell yesterday, flakes so small you could hardly see them, there one moment and gone the next. Another feeble gasp from winter past. We still have snow on the ground, deep in places. I stepped off the road the other day to collect a willow branch and sank to my knee. But the snow has succumbed to the punishment of continual melting and refreezing and has taken on a pebbly, icy texture. The roads are regularly plowed now and lined with mounds of dirty white. The spruce and aspen are free to breathe again without the weight of snow on their limbs and the willows are sprouting and budding everywhere, all thirty nine varieties. Almost all the rooftops are free of cover. The coming of spring, the going of winter.
We have a famous trickster on the flats which many of you know. The Raven. But for me there is another and one you might not recognize as a trickster. Daylight. It’s seven pm and I begin reading Charles Shefield. He writes wholesome hard core science fiction and one chapter isn’t enough for me. I begin another; after all, it’s still light outside so it can’t be too late, can it? I’m really hooked and read another. I’m somewhere out in space, unaware that chapters and time are accelerating at warp speed down a black hole! My internal clock is keyed all wrong, still thinks twilight must end by nine pm. Somehow a nagging uneasiness manages to penetrate the shield of my imagination to warn me I am not in Texas anymore and I force myself to look at the clock. Ha, tricked again! It’s eleven pm and outside my window the infernal, eternal twilight grins at me one last time before putting itself to rest for the night. I will be so sorry when classes begin!
David James was raised in Fort Yukon but he died on the North Slope this past week. A memorial service was held in our gymnasium yesterday and then David was laid to rest in the village cemetery. We are a small community. Death comes almost every winter, or so I hear, an unwelcome but expected visitor. The AC, our store, closed its doors for the memorial service. The AC is the only store in town, so you can say that our entire community closed its doors to commerce out of respect for David. After the graveside ceremony I noticed Albert departing the cemetery. He is one of my 7th grade students, twelve years old, and I do not believe he was related to David. He attended the ceremony alone. I mention this because it is unlikely that I, as a twelve year old, would have taken it upon myself to attend a funeral alone to pay respect to the dead and to those grieving over a loss. In fact, I thoughtlessly forgot to pay my respects yesterday. I think of Albert differently now, more as a young man than as a child. Today Albert became my teacher and I his pupil.