|Morning over the Chugach|
Martha and her “old man” owned a pawn shop down the road from where I worked. I can’t remember her old man’s name, let’s call him Cliff, but these two were self-styled hippies from California. Cliff talked a lot about the music festivals of the 60s and 70s and Martha boasted of Haight roots. Cliff was clearly old enough to have been there and done that but Martha seemed to be younger though she wore the years uneasily on her large frame.
There was always a gathering at Martha’s. The front rooms of this ancient house were filled with showcases of their stagnant pawn business and the back room and second floor of the ancient house were where they lived and entertained. The doors were always open and a winterized back porch was where everyone generally gathered. There always seemed to by a half dozen or so folks wandering about enjoying the subdued carnival atmosphere.
On this particular night I left Martha’s late. I was in between cars at this point so I walked most places. My usual route back to the house led me across a large field where I hopped a chain link fence that bordered the New Seward Highway. I crossed its empty lanes, then over another fence and then a short walk through the woods to home.
This particular winter the snow wasn’t too bad and the air not too cold. Living in Alaska, one redefines one’s expectations of winter weather but in general Anchorage has relatively mild winters and this particular winter my trek across the field wasn’t hampered by more than a foot or so of snow.
I don’t know what got me to looking up as I crossed the field but when I did I noticed the most spectacular show of Northern Lights. I was so enthralled that I eventually craned my neck so far back that I fell over backwards. Fortunately the snow and a bit of Wild Turkey cushioned the fall. I spent enough time laying there admiring the show that cool snow melt seeped into my jeans and got me up and moving again.
Like most woodland creatures the spawn of these awkward, ugly beasts are quite cute. So, your first thought is “Awe, ain’t that cute”. Your second thought, like mine, is usually interrupted by the appearance of a rather perturbed cow. In this case, she appeared out of the willows to my right. I looked left, looked right, and made a bee line for the fence. No doubt my performance that evening would have qualified me for the high jump at the Olympics. I don’t know if the mother made a move for me or not; I didn’t look back. I kept moving till I got to the far lanes of the highway.
I drove by where the pawn shop used to be on Friday. At some point during the past quarter century our dear friends at Walmart came along and plopped one of their megastores on the site of Martha’s place. The field is now full of a Sports Authority and a Sam’s Club. It wasn’t surprising. We’re constantly creating and recreating our environment just as we are ourselves. Those were good times. I wouldn’t go back for anything.
|Pretty Yellow Flowers|