Two days ago, the sun came out. I was working on a Princess ship, when sunlight began to filter through the glass ceiling above the calypso pool. My colleagues and I squinted and exclaimed in disbelief. “What is that,” we cried? “Is that the sun?” I am certain the cruise ship clientele thought we were crazy, but we paid little heed as we danced for joy to see the light long absent return.
It has been raining for so long, I takes a few minutes to remember the last time I saw the sun, blue sky, mountains, a glimpse of another world above and beyond the clouds.
With the rain, the nights begin to darken ever earlier. Cruise ship mornings find me padding the floor in on tentative, slippered feet at 4am, arms outstretched in search of lights in the dark. It is nearly time for a headlamp to guide me from the front door to the car for the early morning commute to park headquarters.
The rain also brings much discussion of weather. I talk with friends around southeast Alaska about different kinds of precipitation, appropriate footwear, preferred rain gear, and the benefits of life in a temperate rainforest. Some friends admit relief with the return of the rain. It is a time to slow down and stretch out on the couch with a cup of hot tea without feeling guilty for remaining indoors. Others talk of the many temperaments of rain, from a fine mist to a howling downpour. One friend tells me it always seems worse from inside, and I would tend to agree. Once xtratuf, rain pants, and jacket have been donned, the outside world is within grasp, and I can walk great lengths in my mobile rain gear shelter.
Children in Southeast grow up with an entirely different perception of the outside world. A fellow educator shared a story of taking kindergardeners outside in the sunshine for a long walk. The children asked for a rain shower to refresh and cool them off. How splendid indeed! Gustavus youth can be found engaging in any outdoor activity, rain or shine, summer, spring, winter, or fall. These kids are anxiously awaiting ripening berries, while those in the lower 48 are camping out for Harry Potter.
I sleep easier with the rhythm of rain drumming on a metal roof. There is comfort in the sound and consistency of the rain, a rhythm that has echoed through the ages, food for the glaciers and nagoonberries, liquid sunshine that connects the earth with the sky.
Yet it worries me how deeply the grey sky and misty clouds affect my psyche. I can feel a veil of darkness shadow my spirit, a heaviness I can’t seem to shake. Do I belong here? And if not here, then where? My heart feels heavy at times, but I am lifted by the thought of Black-billed magpies traveling from the interior, Sandhill cranes and Trumpeter swans overhead, and shades of yellow and brown cottonwood leaves crunching underfoot.