Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Reflections about “The Writer as Alaskan: Beginnings and Reflections

As I read this piece of literature, my mind kept wondering back to my first winter in Fairbanks, Alaska. I was a California girl and had never experienced anything like 20 degrees, let alone -45, darkness and most of all SNOW. Was I crazy, what was I doing here?  I could turn back, but what would I really be going back to?

It felt like a different world that I had stepped into and I was a most willing participate. What a wonderful, exhilarating experience of leaving all of your baggage behind and seeing the world around you with new eyes. What a freeing feeling and a sense of strength I felt by the whole experience. Even watching snowflakes float down and hit the window, caught my fascination. I was amazed at how delicate and intricate each and every one was. As I watched the auroras for the first time that winter, they took my breath away. I had never seen anything like them before, and I remember how it made me feel so insignificant compared to what Mother Nature was showing me that evening. 

This piece also made me think about the old timers that are no longer here. I did have the opportunity to meet some of these characters, “Sourdough’s” as they say. They always seemed to have a story to tell and you never knew how much of the tall tale was true. One such tale was how to become a Sourdough. You had to pee in the Yukon, wrestle a bear and make love to Eskimo. After this was accomplished, your friends could no longer call you a cheechako.  But, one thing I do know for sure is that you don’t mess with anybody’s sluice box, unless you’re helping them retrieve their riches, if you value your life.

I have been lucky to have had a solid foundation of a home life and a place that I could always retreat to and feel safe. For me, I have always needed a place that I could call my own, a place to de-compress and re-charge. A place, that one can be themselves, without feeling pressured by the outside world, a safe haven, a sense of security. A special place that I can create, and have no worries about the likes, and dislikes of someone else. You make your own special place in this world, either you know it right away or it develops over time. Experiencing new places and trying new things is a wonderful gift, you know you’re alive. Yes, Alaska may not be like it was 40 years ago, or even 10 years ago, but there is so much that Alaska has to offer a person. They just have to be willing to clear away all the baggage and get rid of any pretentious ideas and really experience Alaska for what she is. 

Most of the writing in this piece did resonate with me and made me reflect upon my blessed life and what I have to look forward to. This piece of poetry about the beauty of Alaska kind of sums it up.

 There is a beauty,
odd and distant at times,
to this place
that is not lost in the darkness.
You yearn for these mountains,
ache to touch the skyline.
And sounding the wind's siren call
into your soul with each breath,
you are drawn to search
for its pulse,
full certain you will never hold it for long
but sure that it is what beats
in your veins.
You are held
in this unforgiving prison
by your own inability
to keep its mountain walls
like this always.

Published by Amanda Brandenberg


  1. Wow! Lee Ann, you kept my interest from start to finish and beyond with this post. Job well done!