Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Living Alaskan

Last night as I walked to Symphony rehearsal, I saw a moose. Don't worry! It was decently far away, and no threat. But it was a reminder that I live in a place unlike any other. After all, how many other parts of the U.S., or even the world, can claim that very large wildlife are a regular part of day to day life?
My standpartner and I have decided that someone needs to video record our rehearsals and put together a "best of" video for our conductor. He's amazing. The faces he makes, the things he says, all of it. Last night he was telling us how a phrase should be played and it went something like this: "It's pum-pa-ta-PUM-PUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. Not, PUM-pa-ta-pum-pum, DA-dum, DA-dum. It's lovely that way, but it's not how Beethoven heard it." I started giggling. (Get it? Because Beethoven was deaf, and couldn't hear anything, so it's funny....) If I sound like I'm mocking Dr. Zilberkant, I'm really not. It's fabulous to have a conductor who's so passionate about the music. You want to work hard for him.
On the way home, the Northern Lights had just come out. Big green ribbons across the sky, shifting and moving gently. I actually get to see the Lights so rarely because they seem to either come out when it's super cold and I don't want to be outside longer than I have to, or they pop out in the middle of the night when I'm sleeping. So it really is a treat when I get to see them. Shane doesn't care, unless they're moving rapidly or there's more than one color. (Green is the most usual, with purple being next in my experience. But you can also get blues and reds and maybe even some yellow?) When they're dancing, there's nothing else like it that you'll ever see. (The video I linked to is time-lapse, but sometimes I've seen the Lights moving and dancing about that fast. They shift across the sky in swirls and bands and ribbons and you stand there with your mouth hanging open, trying to take it all in at once. It's breathtaking.) Last night, I scurried to get to a place without so many streetlights for better viewing. They were not nearly the best I've seen, but still magnificent. After all, this is one of those things that not many other people in the world can claim to have seen firsthand. I thought about rushing home to try to take a picture, but decided to enjoy them while I could. It was a good decision, since they were almost gone by the time I got home.
This morning, I didn't have to be at work until an hour after my usual time. By the time my alarm went off this morning, it was already starting to get light outside. This is the first time I've woken up to light on any but a weekend morning since the dark season started, and it was a lovely way to wake up. Now, with the return of light, is when people start thinking, "Spring is right around the corner! And then, summer...." It's a tantalizing, seductive thought, and it's false. February does this to us every year. We leave the darkness and the cold of January behind for the relative warmth and light of the start of February. (It's been about 20 to 30 above, rather than 50 below.) But I know, I just know, that sometime soon the temperature will drop again and we'll be back down to -30 or even -40. It's like the weather plays with us, toys with our emotions. It's hard to know which is worse, the almost absolute darkness and the cold around the solstice, or the temperature drop after the first taste of spring. Those are the two times of year when people here are just grumpy constantly. So every day I remind myself: this warmth will not last. Don't get used to it.

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