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Forgive the Winter

A great contrast--a dichotomy in nature--presents itself to inhabitants of my land. Wildnerness paints itself in darkness and in brightness, in shadows and in rainbows--depending on the season. Unforgiving mountainous stretches, not bulldozers and contractors, act as community developers of my land. Rocky peaks and valleys are elusive in winter months; shadowed beneath coverings of simultaneously virginal and cruel, cold white; land epitomies of 'The Odyssey's' Sirens; portraying such foreboding beauty as to inspire the works of artists and poets from the corners of the world; their beauty meant to behold and not to inhabit.

Transformation occurs at epic levels in summer months. Harshly carved bodies of water fill with thriving nature and people. Plant and animal life spring up like soldiers, wily and rebellious. Fireweed, as bright and life-giving as those wood stove lanterns in the dead of winter, welcome visitors and travelers and transients alike. No manicured road medians exist in my land; only wildlife and litter, picked apart by witty ravens. Residents adopt the same theories of survival applied by wildlife for centuries; the same secrets known to trees and animals and the successful, unfettered return of color and life in Spring. The people here are as resilient as the fireweed, the martin, the raven and the moose. We adapt to our surroundings, observe the importance of elements, and appreciate goodness gained through the experience of a humbling winter period.

My land holds secrets of ancestors, natural resources, and life. My land is Alaska.



Rebecca Snavely's picture



What a beautiful glimpse of Alaska. It reads like poetry. I've often had to urge to explore Alaska, to experience the stark contrasts in nature and beauty there. I love the "wily and rebellious" life that springs up, and the image of fireweed welcoming visitors and travelers.

Thank you for inviting me into your landscape, an escape from my city life in Los Angeles.



Emily Garcia's picture


Welcome to PulseWire, Taryn, and thank you for sharing your story. Your imagery here depicts a land that is magnificently beautiful, though cruel--a place 'to behold and not to inhabit.' I'd love to read more about you and your life within this land! How do you adapt and deal with the elements? And I'm curious, do you feel at home here, or are you constantly at odds with (and in awe of) nature?

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing more from you soon!

All the best,


Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Associate

Taryn's picture

Thank you for the warm

Thank you for the warm welcome. I enjoy this forum! So many inspirational stories and people....

I think the most poignant example of how Alaskans adapt to our environment in a more modern setting comes through the examination of Spring. So many swollen bellies, so many faces glowing with maternal hormones, so many primal cries and clinched fists---human newness. Just as plants and wildlife recreate themselves and reintroduce the Alaskan landscape to newness and color, people are painting their own portraits of new life. It is a contrast between embracing the long hours of winter darkness and rebelling against the unnatural cold, I think: the act of making a baby in winter months--something so prevalent here that in April, May, and June, most department stores are void of baby items, unless a new shipment has recently been shelved. It seems that in this way also, Alaskans adopt the theories of their ancestral surroundings, both fauna and mammal. I love that so many people here are unwittingly and subconsciously repeating a primal process of renewal, each and every year. This knowledge acts to firmly attach my conscience to my beginnings, my roots, my derivatives. Bearing witness to this springtime phenomena; it creates a human link in my mind--a link to a world that is navigated substantially through instinct, a world that is organic and natural, and real--and awesome!

Feeling like we are at odds with this place, I believe, is only natural in the beginning. Many tried and true Alaskans will assure you that it takes a significant amount of time before one can truly be adapted to the mood swings exacted upon us at the hands of 'Old Man Winter'. I believe that this feeling of being at odds with the nature and landscapes here is sort of necessary--a right of passage, so-to-speak. Once a person has truly adapted to this environment, they are accepting of the challenges, and thus begin the process of deriving from the cruelty, drawing from the harshness. I find that, even as a twelve year veteran, come March and April, I am certainly at odds with this place. But each passing year, I find myself increasingly exhuberant during summer months; adopting new hobbies and activities every summer season that act to enhance my experience: hiking, running, gardening, biking. There is no other place in the world that compares to Alaska in summer months. It is simply euphoric--from the smell of pine, to the sight of so much cottonwood spawn so deep, it appears as snow. So much uniqueness, but only more enhanced after a long winter. We make ourselves at home here by facing our odds, adapting to them, and adopting a few of nature's own ancient cycles along the way. :)

Maria de Chirikof's picture


I was reading it and thinking you could be speaking of Alaska and you were, wonderful description of it! You are in Tok? I am from Anchorage. I look forward to reading more of your descriptions of Alaska!


JaniceW's picture

Such powerful imagery

You bring us the beauty and primeval of Alaska to our door. Your imagery is so striking in an almost brutal way, the fierceness of the landscape coming through in your words. The richness of its desolate beauty juxtaposed against the vastness and isolation of the landscape. Thank you for sharing this wonderful portrait of your Land.

jadefrank's picture



Beautiful. You have poetically and so eloquently described your relationship with Alaska, with the land and with the people... thank you for sharing your beautiful story!


sunita.basnet's picture

Beautiful piece

Dear Taryn,

Thanks for sharing beautiful story about your land. I cannot wait to read your future post in pulse wire.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Fatima Waziri's picture

Beautiful write up! i have

Beautiful write up! i have heard nice things about Alaska and i am sure it is a awesome place to leave. Thank you for sharing your world.


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