At the moment, I’m in Anchorage with a group of girls from Arctic Village. This is their annual Native Youth Olympics field trip, and I’m the female chaperone, borrowed from the next village over.
There’s no snow on the ground here, and it rained on the way down from Fairbanks yesterday. There are tiny green leaves on the trees.
On Sunday I put the Sassy White Bravo away for the last time this season. When I get back to Venetie in a week and a half, there won’t be snow on the ground. I returned my skis to gym storage, too. It was a hard day, Sunday. It seemed like winter would last forever, and then suddenly it was over.
As a last hurrah, Ben and I and our visiting student teacher, Addie, took the SWB on its most epic adventure so far. We rode out maybe six miles to the north, the farthest I’ve been along that trail, and started a fire. Terri had given us a foil packet of moose meat, so we set it in among the coals to cook while we went skiing.
It was a gorgeous, warm sunny day. The snow was thick and slick and slushy, and we flew over it fast and sure, hatless and gloveless in our t-shirts.
On the way back, I skied behind the snowmachine – a handy way to move a third body, and a lot of fun. You fly back there, bumping over the ice at a ripping ten or fifteen miles per hour. The trail opened up and I practiced skiing off to the side of the machine in an open area that had been solid ice hours earlier. It happened so fast – all of a sudden I was flying face-first into the deep slush. My skis had sunk into the heavy snow and hooked. I pitchpoled and wound up with ice in my teeth.
I was fine and came up laughing. It’s hard to hurt yourself in the deep, thick, pillowy white spring snow.
But oh, it happened so fast, this spring. It’s suddenly almost summer, and the goodbyes have already begun: Goodbye, snow. Goodbye, skiing. Goodbye, kiddoes.
And goodbye, Venetie.
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be teaching in Arctic Village next year.
Still. It happened so fast.
I’m on my way to a new adventure, but I’m savoring every moment I have left with my kids and in the village, and lingering over the small farewells.