“It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.” -Riley, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I’ve never been in Fairbanks in the spring. Spring is the time when all things, uh, you know, spring back to life. The world comes alive and flowers bloom beneath retreating snow. Except the snow here is apparently not so keen on doing the “retreating” thing. It’s been five days and we’re hunkered down under the onslaught of the city’s second snowpocalypse in less than a week. Another winter storm warning, expecting upwards of another 12 inches in places, expect severe winter conditions, travel very difficult or impossible, prepare for loss of power, etc. etc. I guess I’m not going to get to go flying this morning after all.
Granted, flying was only one of the reasons I was here. An acquaintance has a Super Cub on skis and, while I’ve got a veritable alphabet soup of pilot ratings (COM ASEL-AMEL-ASES/I PP-GLI CFI-ASI TW/HP), I’ve never flown a plane on skis, least of all the legendary Super Cub. But that was only frosting on the trip.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t use the word “frosting” in this context.
But the main reasons I’m here were to meet up (socially distantly, of course) with friends and folks at UAlaska I’m collaborating with on a proposal for marine science software. Hole up in the times in between to get some work done on a fiction project I’m trying trying trying to wrap up. Maybe get in some end-of-season skiing in. So four out of five isn’t bad.
Make it five out of six if you add the additional goal of “not catch COVID yet” to the list. Yet. I have to say “yet” because I don’t want to tempt fate, even though (knock on wood) I’ve never been superstitious. I’m due for my second jab of Moderna in a week and a half, and if one of the proliferating variants doesn’t jump me on the way home, I may have squeezed past the point of greatest risk, in spite of all the travel.
Granted, beyond the not-get-COVID thing, various parts of the trip have had various levels of success. The writing is coming along…slowly. I take comfort in an anecdote that Stephen King tells of James Joyce:
“A friend came to visit Joyce one day and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair.
‘James, what’s wrong?’ the friend asked. ‘Is it the work?’
Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always?
‘How many words did you get today?’ the friend pursued.
Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): ‘Seven.’
‘Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you.’
‘Yes,’ Joyce said, finally looking up. ‘I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!”
At least, when people ask how the writing is going, I can I say I’m feeling like James Joyce today, and I can say it with a smile.
But the skiing – oh, the skiing has been magnificent (remember that bit about a second snowpocalypse?). The university has miles of XC ski trails through the woods behind it, and frankly, with this much snow on the ground, you don’t actually need ski trails. There are miles of frozen lakes and rivers to explore. And frankly, streets. Some mornings I’ve just been strapping my rented skis on at the front door and gone cruising around the neighborhood.
Some day I’ll have to visit Fairbanks in the summer and see what the skiing is like then.