Friday, April 15, 2011


I am in Anchorage, Alaska visiting my daughter and her family. If you have lived in a northern city you know what I mean by "breakup". The temperature is in the 20's overnight - still well below freezing when my grandchildren are out the door to catch the school bus. It is what they are wearing that marks them as true Alaskans. Wool hat, light weight windbreaker, shorts and BF Goodrich "Xtra Tuffs". Xtra Tuffs are sturdy brown rubber boots. They are essential in every Alaskan's wardrobe. With these boots they can easily kick in the sides of the rotting snow piles still encircling the bus stop. They can jump on the ice covered puddles hoping to break through. By recess they will have shed their hats and will play outside where the sun reflecting on the snow feels warmer than the mid-thirties temperature. They come home in t-shirts, still wearing the Xtra Tuffs to slosh through the snow melt that puddles everywhere. 
There is a great horned owl in the trees where my daughter and her family live. At night he fills the hillside with his courtship calls. The State Department of Fish and Game has posted warnings to take down birdfeeders in anticipation of the arrival of bears. The Chugach Mountains tower over Anchorage, safe haven for moose, bear, wolverine and all the plants and animals that they eat. Moose tracks show clearly in the snow alongside the road.

I went to an assembly at my grandchildren's school. Martin Buser, four time winner of the Iditarod sled dog race was there with his lead dog and puppies. He talked about safety in the extreme conditions of the north. The kids listened. They need to know.

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