For Family

How could it take so long to find this land…?

I was a little boy walking beside my grandmother along graveled paths near the home that she and my grandfather built with their own hands. She was patient with me as I stooped to pick stones from the road. Sometimes I looked up to the sky; it shone crystalline blue, a visual wonder, and irreversibly imprinted itself on my memory. That was my first conscious experience of awe and I have never forgotten it. There is a reason we associate blue skies with good times.

Years past, I grew older and the skies grew dimmer. I thought blue skies were gone forever.

I was wrong about that. They do exist, and above the village where I now live along the Arctic Circle sunlight penetrates unsullied transparent air under a canopy of fantastic blue just as it did many years ago in the days of my childhood. My wife is patient with me as I stoop to pick stones from the graveled roads. And sometimes I look up to the sky and wonder in awe.

We came to rural Alaska, to the bush, to teach. We found much more than jobs. Good friends, welcome austerity, many needs to be met. I was unprepared for the purity of nature that greeted us; that was a welcome find. This is not a perfect world, but of course, we weren’t expecting it to be.

Ben, Jordan, Christopher, Mom, Ralph and Virginia: this is for you and for our grandchildren, our brothers, our sisters and our friends. Miles may separate the flesh, but the heart knows nothing of distance.

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