How could it take so long to find this land…?
I was a little boy walking beside my grandmother along graveled paths near the home that she and my grandfather built with their own hands. She was patient with me as I stooped to pick stones from the road. Sometimes I looked up to the sky; it shone crystalline blue, a visual wonder, and irrevocably imprinted itself on my memory. That was my first conscious experience of awe and I have never forgotten it. There is a reason we associate blue skies with good times.
Years past, I grew older and the skies grew dimmer. I thought blue skies were gone forever.
We came to rural Alaska, to the bush, to teach. We found much more than jobs. Good friends, welcome austerity, many needs to be met. I was unprepared for the purity of nature that greeted us; that was a welcome find. This is not a perfect world, but of course, we weren’t expecting it to be.
Ben, Jordan, Christopher, Mom, Ralph and Virginia: this is for you and for our grandchildren. And, of course, our brothers, our sisters and our friends. Miles may separate the flesh, but the heart knows nothing of distance.
I was wrong about the sky, you know. Blue skies do exist, right above the village where we now live along the Arctic Circle. The sunlight penetrates the transparent air unhindered under a canopy of fantastic blue, just as it did many years ago in the days of my boyhood. Now my wife, Lindsay, must be the patient one as I stoop (more slowly now) to pick stones from the graveled roads. And I never fail to look up to the sky and wonder in awe…