We’re lucky to have this kind of adulthood
[by Melissa Bradley]
Outsiders often ask me how I handle the long winters in Alaska. “Winter is easy,” I tell them. “Summer is the difficult season.”
It’s a season of abundance: of light, of lush greenery, of adventure, of visitors. Every evening is full of bikes and dirt and trampoline jumps and suddenly it’s ten o’clock and you haven’t eaten dinner yet but the sun is still shining. If you have kids, you recognize the power of blackout shades and marvel at how your little Alaskans adapt so quickly to the change in seasons and light. Laundry piles up and dust collects, but your deck is full of tales of all the adventures from the week.
And yet, you still have to get up and go to work and maintain the same level of productivity, with the sunshine calling, the mountains teasing, and the fish running. I love my job—but the moment we’re driving down the Seward Highway, sandwiched between all the other weekend warriors heading south—I can leave the office behind and let the beauty take hold.
Our sailboat is moored in Seward and we’re excited about discovering all that Resurrection Bay has to offer. We pile our gear and two kids into wagons and head down to our boat. My kids play on deck as we unpack and prep the boat and I catch visitors on the dock taking photos of my husky pup standing on the bow. I love the vibe of the harbor, and the people who stop and talk to us and ask us about our adventures. You’re brave, they say to us. And your kids are so lucky to have this kind of childhood.
But we’re equally lucky to have this kind of adulthood. As we sail off for the weekend, unplugged and unfettered, a calmness washes over me. I melt into the wind. One Friday night we left the harbor and two whales breached just off our portside. My daughter doesn’t understand this isn’t normal for most people.
We tuck into a cove and anchor for the night, and just after my little one goes to bed, I hop on my paddleboard and head to shore. Thousands of salmon swirl below me and I stop trying to figure out if they’re pinks or reds and just enjoy the abundance of life below the surface of the water.
In the morning, we head to shore and play on the beach for hours. My daughter climbs boulders and takes off her shoes and plays in streams and balances on fallen logs. She has transformed into a pirate, fiercely protecting her bounty of shells and rocks she has found.
My son throws rocks and ambles in the soft sand, pausing every so often to put a scoop in his mouth. I teach her how to pluck fireweed shoots from the ground and eat them and show her the beach greens that sailors like her used to eat when they didn’t have fresh food available. I feel so present with myself and with my kids.
Every Sunday, we hope for calm seas as we head back to the harbor. By the time we pack up and clean the boat and drive home to Anchorage, we’re exhausted. We drop our gear in the overflowing laundry room and search our empty fridge for dinner ideas. I realize my daughter has already fallen asleep on the couch and as I carry her to her bed, she asks me when we’re going to our big boat next.
Next weekend, little love.