|Deer Heart and moss|
It feels as if spring has finally gotten a firm hold on Sitka. When I first arrived 2 months ago, the forest floor was still barren beneath the high canopy of the evergreens, but within the last few weeks, lush foliage has burst forth from dormant flora that I hadn’t even noticed before. The woods have become ten times denser with the bright green yawn of deciduous trees awakening from their winter slumber, and the soft understory is completely obscured by thousands of Deer Heart leaves that have sleepily unfurled from their spear-like shoots. Ruby-crowned kinglets and pacific wrens warble their odes to the season, fervently trying to find mates amid the cacophony of nature stirring to life again.
|Banana Slug! ♥|
The human world has stirred to life as well. Shops in town have longer hours now and more people rove the sidewalks. I still can’t get over how different it is from Nome, or even Anchorage. In some ways, it doesn’t feel like the “Alaska” I know. Looking at the mountains and spectacular scenery, there’s no doubt about where I am, but Sitka gives off its own unique vibe that I haven’t quite put my finger on yet. People are more relaxed, friendly, and happy. It’s the tourists who look like they are trying to prove they’re either “Alaskans-at-heart,” or “I’m-not-from-around-here-let-me-tell-you-my-life-story.” My favorites are the ones who come off the ship wearing their color-coordinated faux-fur trooper hats with matching fur boots and fur-lined coats when it’s 55 degrees and sunny out.
|With the goofy interns and volunteers|
But I digress. The town itself seems to keep up its appearances and personable disposition, at least everywhere I’ve been so far. Despite it being relatively small, I feel a little more anonymous here, and I like that. Perhaps that will change the longer I’m here, but for now I’m happy.
|At Castle Hill on a sunny day|
Sometimes I get lonely. I suppose everyone does, who lives far away from all their friends and family. I know a few people here now, but it’s different than having someone to talk to who truly knows me. It can sometimes feel like you’ve been forgotten, even though I know that isn’t remotely true. Having no internet leaves a little too much time for over-analyzing such things.
The lack of internet has actually been incredibly enjoyable in most other respects. I have a limited data plan on my phone so I activate it for a few minutes each day just to check the vitals but otherwise I’m restricted to using the wifi at the library a few times a week.
I’m still amazed at how much free time I have during the day without it. I’ve become so much more creative, using my time to write, try new forms of artwork, to sew, cook delicious meals, read for pleasure, and go running down new streets I haven’t explored. Mornings are my favorite, when I just sit at the kitchen table with a cup of hot coffee and stare out the window; the sun has long since risen, now coming up around 4am, but the light is still golden and robins bounce around in the grass while thrushes peek out from the ever-fragrant skunk cabbage in the swamp across the driveway.
|My latest piece: Raven in Ink|
After breakfast I’m out the door and making the 15 minute walk to work along sidewalks overgrown with big colorful tulips, clusters of forget-me-nots, stalks of daffodils, and a wild scattering of dandelions run rampant. Down the hill I am captivated by the view of Crescent Harbor on a backdrop of islands and mountains. When I get into work, I’m at the beautiful visitor’s center perched on the edge of the intertidal zone and the northern rainforest surrounded by ancient totem poles and soaring bald eagles above.
Life here is all at once beautiful, challenging, unfamiliar, and isolating. It wasn’t until recently that I figured out why I am drawn to these things: Within the great anonymity and loneliness that is sometimes the reality of the life I’ve chosen to live, is also a deep richness of fulfillment and inspiration I could never live without.