I will date this post in chronological order as these pictures are from before the snow, when we were heading towards the winter solstice.
Yes, I know it is dark, with the sun barely heaving it’s light over the mountains at mid morning before tearing it away when it slumps down again before dinner time.
Probably because I am still at home with a little one, I see more sunlight than those who drive both ways in darkness just to sit inside during the workdays. But I loved Frank Baker’s article in our local print magazine, the Echo this past month.
He brought to light the idea that even though we have such short hours of direct sunlight, if we go out to seek that sun, we are, in the end, seeking adventure.
These photos are from Beach Lake, quite nearby. It was our first skate of the year so there were still sections showing signs of solidifying, but we checked the thickness of the ice and hugged the shore.
There is something in us during a season that turns its face from the sun towards the great yawn of space, that cherishes the light for when and where it is present.
Even though we did not get direct sunlight on our faces, the reflections of light bouncing from the mountain tops to the mirror beneath our skates sufficed.
These next photos are from Fire Lake in Eagle River. We decided to do a short skate before dropping the kids at school one morning.
Skating before the sun skirts the mountain ridge lines is thrilling as the murky, black depths beneath your skates lift you up and hurl you along.
Plus, there is really no better way to awaken your mind and start the day.
That is until someone falls and breaks a wrist. Then, it’s just a fond memory with a painful ending. We drug my mother along on this one with ill fitting skates. It was an adventure.
This photo is from Edmonds Lake, out in Chugiak, which the kids and I explored one evening directly after school. The sun had already set but we made use of every last drop of sun dripping off the mountains down into our valley before bouncing back skyward.
Same lake, different day.
This part of the lake is so shallow, and the ice like glass, that the bottom can be easily seen.
And again, different day, different light, same ice.
Rabbit Slough is a meandering snake of water that slithers toward the Knik River. It can be followed all the way out but I have yet to make it that far with kids.
This was a cold day and there was a lot of whining for the first half a mile.
But then, as they usually do, discoveries began to be made, and race speeds timed.
My daughter thought an axolotl ice skating was hilarious so she came costumed…
The kids started pointing out ice formations they found, demanding pictures—which I happily obliged.
And then we broke out into streams of light.
Shadows are marvelous aren’t they? I think we’re drawn to them because they walk hand in hand with the presence of light.
Our trip to Mud Lake was a first time acquaintance. It was cold and cloudy when we arrived.
Our friends had done a solstice skate to greet the first light of the winter solstice and the lake was complete glass, with fish swimming circles beneath their skates.
But just two days later, the lake had a dusting of snow.
And we were forced to clear sections to find the fish swimming below.
This is a stretch of interconnected lakes tied together by marshes, and while we didn’t make it to the other two lakes, we explored partway down a marsh path.
Of course there are always plenty of ways to play and once they get going, the kids are not really ever bored.
The call to turn around comes from cold fingers and toes or the toddler ready for his nap.
It began to snow, but then on the return, the miracle happened. As the clouds began to disperse, it was still snowing,
But we began to be able to see the sunlit peaks all around us.
The blue sky that had been watching us the whole time showed its face, smiling down through the snowstorm.
It was as good as standing in a rain shower, looking up at a rainbow.
Now, as I sit at the beginning of February, reflecting on the dark of December, I’m taken again with this short season of ice skating, soaring over the refractions and prisms of light. We take what we can get and we get out to find the light.