Like moths to a lamp, swallows to Capistrano, or post-race cankles, there's a certain predictability to autumn. Daylight wanes, temps fall, precip rises, and invariably my thoughts turn north to Alaska. Each February of the last 11 years I've made a pilgrimage to some part of that state to spend time, usually alone, enjoying the backcountry. This year I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to spend that time, nor where, nor with whom. Like so many circling moths I'm not even completely sure why I choose there.
No matter where you live the rest of the year, it is cold.
It starts at very expensive and only increases as you go.
There is often anxiety,
But on every trip there's at least one moment that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Sometimes it's a combination of scenery and light.
Other times it's an interaction with a human or animal(s).
Occasionally it's indefinable, which is a groovy way of saying that it can't really be explained, can only be experienced.
Whatever it is, it always happens. That collection of memories is more valuable than almost anything else in my life. It is irreplaceable, and it has had a huge part in shaping the person that I am and the direction that my life has taken over the last decade.
On autumn days like today when I can see my breath while toodling with the dog around the block, there's no place my thoughts would rather roam.
Time to start getting ready.