When I was very young we lived just outside Anchorage, Alaska. Back then it was a thirty minute drive to the city and when Mom would take us berry picking she always wore her .357 in case of bear or an angry moose. It was a very rural area. But going back now some thirty years later we discovered time waits for no man. Even Alaska experiences urban sprawl so today thanks to the freeway now the city is just a short drive away, grocery stores are just a short hop in the car down the road and while the moose are still plentiful many feel safe enough from the wild animals to tromp through the woods with only a bottle of water—at least within this area.
Can you really go back home? My memories of the childhood home, school, etc. allowed us to find my way to the house. But it was different, after all these years, the roads are paved, the homes look aged, and the surrounding birch trees are no longer saplings but instead stand tall lining the road.
One of my fond childhood memories was when we kids would walk down to the swamp and following the animal trails clambering over mossy green hummocks as we played. It seemed an idyllic place. I took the family down to the swamp, which was still there—only to discover a dark, dank area, filled with stagnant water harboring hungry mosquitoes that we awoke when we walked past. Is it a memory dashed? Or maybe it’s that I don’t see through those rose colored glasses of a five year old. It makes me wonder, maybe my mom couldn’t believe that we kids found the swamp an entertaining place to play.
But many of the memories still are the same. The birch trees still have soft velvety leaves. The summer sun still remains high in the sky at midnight. And giant caribou or moose antlers (or often both) still adorn many of the homes in the area. And some in the family still live in their original homes. It is also funny to hear others date major events in their lives on whether they happened before or after the ’64 earthquake. Obviously this event had a huge impact on everyone’s life.
Speaking of family. What a great opportunity to see the kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews all grown up now. Of course, somehow it still seems strange those kids I remember playing with are now grown, many having grandchildren of their own, while the adults of my childhood are now seniors…or nearly so. For the next few days we will enjoy getting catching up and spending time together.