This is a post that I have been contemplating for a year! Last summer, Jeff and I took a ride up Hatcher Pass to walk around a bit. I was amazed at how many varieties of wildflowers of Alaska there were in such a small patch of meadow. At least 15-20 varieties in a 40 x 40 section. I didn’t have my good camera with me at the time, and tried to take some photos with the inadequate one I had.
It didn’t work out well. So the next week, we went back to reshoot the photos. The flora had completely changed!
I’ve waited patiently for a year, taking a weekly field trip up the pass since spring to monitor the blooming process. Last week, the early summer blooms were in blossom. I took full advantage this time.
Hatcher Pass-Fields of Green
It was a Tuesday morning, and I packed up my camera gear, some water, (forgot bear spray), and headed up the canyon. I was surprised at the lack of traffic, hikers, bikers, and tourists. Summer can get pretty busy in Hatcher.
But really; it was me, the Palmer Cross Country Ski Team (running up the whole way, WOW), and a couple of other cars. I hadn’t felt alone like that before up there.
After parking the truck, I walked out through the arm-pit high foliage, hoping not to surprise a bear, and making noise to ensure that at least it would hear me coming.
I focused on about a 30 x 30 foot patch of ground. No disappointment, the wildflowers of Alaska were there! Columbines, Chocolate Lilies, Forget-Me-Nots, Dwarf Fireweed and on and on.
It had rained the night before, so water droplets added to the floral drama. I came away a wet mess! To get good shots, I literally crawled delicately through the flowers, lay in the trails on my back, and rolled under bushes.
It was, of course, beautiful…so worth a few mosquito bites.
Pondering life among the wildflowers of Alaska
After taking photos, I walked up the path a little further, sat down, and enjoyed the vistas. It was a gift to be surrounded by that much quiet solitude, it forces me to reflect.
What a blessing to enjoy wild places…it feeds my soul; it’s my escape. Nature breeds in me humility and gratitude. Sitting there that morning, I felt truly free. I embrace the freedom and isolation of living in Alaska.
And I don’t take it for granted.
I thought about the chaos of the world outside. So much heartache, suffering, and injustice caused in large part by our fellow human beings. I hate even listening to the news. It’s enough to spiral a person into despair. Then, my mind drifted to the poor souls consumed with work, technology, schedules, and a lifestyle that forces your head down. To me, that’s enslavement too. I pity them.
How are we going to fix this mess? I don’t know. As a start, maybe if more people took the time to appreciate the small and simple things around them like flowers, attitudes would be different. What’s free is what’s taken most for granted. Exactly the opposite should be true if we ever hope to heal our world.
Like Dorothea Brande said, “Wake Up and Live!” When you find hope in yourself, it’s much easier to help others. Don’t take the natural world around you for granted, take time to smell the flowers.
Sounds altruistic…but wouldn’t it be nice?
I think Edward Abbey said it best in one of my favorite quotes. I read it to remind to look up and out instead of inward and down.
‘One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am –a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.
While you can. While it’s still there.
So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air.
Sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space.
Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators (computers, Ipads and phones).
I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards”. Edward Abbey
*To identify more wildflowers of Alaska, check out this easy online guide. I like it because the flowers are grouped by color.