It's Saturday morning, the fog has lifted revealing sunlit tundra. Miles of reds and golds, and I'm stuck in my box at work for a couple more days.
At the risk of sounding sappy.....
I love the fall. Not just because of hunting, the whole season. Sights, sounds, the taste, and the smell of it....it's a magic time for me. The world stands in sharp relief, aglow in the brassy light of a waning sun. Summer's frenzy of life begetting life, not yet quelled by the sterility of winter, has been replaced by the orderly processes of harvest and store. A busy time, the work of it is not work so much as celebration and sharing.
Wood, left to season, is split and stacked. Berries are picked with family and friends, and along with the last of our gardens, canned and put up for days when the taste of them will recall the warmth and ease of July days. Smokehouses fill homesteads and subdivisions alike with their wafting promises of deliciousness to come.
Now is the time the waters run clear and last of the salmon have gone to feed their offspring and thick, eager trout. On those sunny days, crisp with frost, the sky burns a deep hypnotic blue and the forests, crowned in green and gold invite us to venture afield. Caribou ghost out of the hills and along their ancient traces. Moose, swaying massive antlers, grunt challenges from the willows. In the distance, the mountains, sugared with the first snows, ring with the crack of horns smashed against horns.
Closer to home, grouse in the alder thickets draw us through birch woods laced with the tang of cranberries. Dawn finds many of us along the margins of ponds and muskegs, steadying wet and eager dogs, waiting for the mist to lift, and the ducks.
On the banks of distant rivers we gather. Campfires and camraderie. Fathers, brothers and friends regale the camp with stories salted with truth and peppered with just a few lies. Woodsmoke and bisquits and secret chili recipies. The food is always good, the whiskey light and smooth. Traditions, rituals and passing the torch to nephews and sons.
Clean the gutters and winterize summer toys and mow the lawn one last time....Even the mundane tasks of modern life seem a bit easier during these last bright days.
It is fall in Alaska. It is a dream that comes true once every year.