Last night I walked down the hill to watch the 9:30p sunset. We have more than 15 hours between sunrise and sunset now and all the recent long days of “warm” sunshine have gone a long way toward melting out the lingering piles of snow. Yesterday was the first day that the Anchorage snow cover dropped below 1″ in 138 days. We’ve gotten past the worst of sloppy spring Break Up and for the first time since my November surgery, I didn’t have to decide between ice bugs or xtratufs for a safe, dry sunset walk.
Sounds of Spring were everywhere last night. Seagulls screamed over my head and flocks of geese honked across their flightpath. A steady flow of snow melt beat a path into a nearby drain and I kicked a small stone down the sidewalk until it eventually skittered off the edge.
Out in the Park Strip geese were busy filling their bellies and to the east, the snow covered Chugach Mountains basked in the soft glow of fading evening light. Just at the top of the hill lay a watering hose where earlier in the day I’d chatted with the man who, perhaps a bit too eagerly, stood watering the single yellow crocus blooming there. But after a long, dark Anchorage winter, who can blame him for putting on shorts and running out to join the front edge of Spring? Not me!
How I have missed these evening walks! I could see the triangular heads of Denali and Foraker off in the distant north, as I descended to my spot at the end of the road. Voices floated up from the Coastal Trail below. For the first time in months, that trail is mostly clear of ice and snow. Runners. Bikers. Friends on a walk. “Do you want to go get a beer? We can have a birthday celebration!”
I’ve walked that trail with friends. I’ve biked it. Skied it. And run. Last spring and early summer I logged miles and miles there, chasing an elusive dream. Tonight I simply stood above, leaning my elbows on the fence. Watching. And remembering.
It was quiet in the space where I stood. On my left, a middle aged (more middle aged than me!) lady faced into the setting sun and slowly moved her body through yoga poses. In my side eye view I could see her face, wet with quiet tears. On my right, a scruffy young man drove up in his full sized pickup truck. He turned it off, got out, leaned against the door, and lit a cigarette. A few minutes later his camera shutter broke into our quiet. On the far side of the water a jagged line drew mountains on the horizon and the bright gleam of an orange sun slipped behind them, out of view.
I turned and walked back up the hill.