A blog entry about the Aurora, the Yukon Quest, a night visit to Denali Park, and Snowshoeing. And a special “In Memoriam” for a childhood friend who left this earth too soon.
JANUARY AURORA BOREALIS – THE SHOW CONTINUES
We have had an unseasonably warm winter – especially for Interior Alaska. Our snow accumulation is not up to normal levels either. While this isn’t something we’re necessarily ‘sad’ about, it can wreak havoc for well pipes and septic tanks.
Today the temperature is in the low 30s. Today is also the opening day for the Ice Park. Ice Alaska is a favorite event for those of us who live in the interior, and colder weather is definitely more desirable. After all, the ice park is open for a month, and the colder it is, the longer the sculptures last.
We have had a wonderful month of aurora viewing. As we gain back daylight hours, the aurora appears later and later. For the most part, we’re starting to see the lights shortly after 8pm if it’s an active forecast. And 8pm isn’t late by any means. But most of the time, it’s closer to 10 or 11pm or even later. And by that time, some of us have given up for the evening in favor of sleep. I would be one of those people.
However, I am also prone to middle of the night insomnia. Or middle of the night bathroom visits. And it is a natural reflex for me to step out of bed and immediately peek through the blinds in our bedroom to see if anything is going on. It is at these times that I usually catch a bright green band stretching across the sky. And seeing the aurora is very very hard to resist – even in a sleepy stupor.
Fortunately, the aurora in the photos below arrived at a more reasonable hour – before midnight. These were taken in the last few days of January.
Aurora over House on January 31st:
REMEMBERING A CHILDHOOD FRIEND
“There are things about your childhood you hold onto,
because they were so much a part of you.
The places you went, the people you knew.”
~ The Wonder Years ~
William “Bill” K. Daka
August 20, 1960-January 31, 2016
On January 31st, a childhood friend passed away. Learning about his death rocked me, and everyone who grew up on our road in Philadelphia back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
I wrote about Billy on my Facebook Page, and share it here:
Today, I found out that my childhood friend Bill – who will always be Billy to me – passed away on January 31st. News travels fast in this world of technology, and FB messages have been moving back and forth between members of the “Tomlinson Rd Gang” – a lighthearted reference to those of us who lived and played on that road in Philadelphia 45+ years ago. It is hard to believe that Billy is gone. He was 55.
Billy was my first boyfriend. I was 10 and he was 9 (eight months younger). He was my first kiss, the first boy I “went steady” with, and the first boy to ask me to marry him. He proposed to me when he was 10 and I was 11. He even had a ring for me – a yellow citrine stone flanked by two tiny pearls and set in a 10kt gold band (photo below). I found out a few hours after his proposal, that he swiped the ring from his mother’s Sarah Coventry collection. Fortunately, she let me keep it rather than embarrassing her son by making him ask for it back! I have saved the ring all these years, even though it is cheap, tarnished and much too small for my grown up fingers. After all, it was my first ever engagement ring! The ring came with a love letter. Sloppily written in pencil on lined paper, Billy professed his forever love to me and… going on the Newlywed Game. *grin*
From the letter (photo below):
“When we grow up, I hope we can get married and go to the Newlywed Game. I hope they don’t ask us “who said the first words to each other?” Did I talk to you first or did you talk to me first? We loved each other for a long time. Love Billy”
And beneath his signature is the familiar heart we’d add to our notes: SS & BD. Several trees in the neighborhood were also etched with this heart.
Billy and I were boyfriend/girlfriend (on and off quite a bit), for about 3 years. During our *breakups* he wooed other childhood friends (you know who you are!) Billy was a popular boy in the neighborhood with both the girls and many of the boys too. He was the fastest runner, a great football player, and just plain cool.
He had a way of convincing the rest of us to do what he wanted. If he wanted to play football, we did. If he wanted to go bike riding, we did. If he wanted the boys to hate the girls for an entire summer – they did. (And what a miserable summer that was for us!)
I don’t know what precipitated the declaration of war between the boys and the girls, but I do remember being mad that they were off having fun at the fort, or hiking the railroad tracks, or catching minnows in the ponds, or doing cool things at the “Poop Factory” (an old water filtration plant just up the road that smelled like…. well, I’m sure you can figure it out!)
One day in late summer, we just about had enough. We followed them. Everywhere they went. Annoying them. Angering them. All the way to the Poop Factory – where they ambushed us from their hidden spots behind the building and deep, smelly water pits. Rocks flew. We threw them back. Another volley and BOOM – my friend Michele was hit in the head! They scattered when that happened, and we went off in pursuit.
When we caught up with them, I shoved Billy. I was so mad, I wanted to beat the heck out of him. (My daddy taught me how to fight, just as he taught my brothers how to fight. I wasn’t some delicate flower… none of us girls were raised that way!) What Billy had in might, I had in height. And longer arms. I grabbed him by the arm and swung him around…. and around…. and around… and then let him go. I bruised his ego more than his body, and unfortunately, I ruined any chances of the boys ever wanting to hang out with us again. It was a rather boring summer without them. Eventually we all made up and became friends again. But the boyfriend/girlfriend days for Billy and I were definitely over.
Not too long after, the neighborhood began to change. Some of the kids moved away. New kids moved in. Our block of kids expanded to three blocks and the group grew larger. We moved into our teens, started high school, made new friends, started formally dating, fell in love, stopped hanging out on the streets as much.
I married my high school sweetheart when I was 18. I moved out of the neighborhood and traded many of my childhood friends for new *married life* friends. But since my brothers were friends with Billy, I would occasionally hear about how his life was going. He married, had a son, divorced. Dated, found love again, had a wonderful life with her – a relationship that lasted many years. Last year, cancer took her. It was just after her death that I found him on FB and reached out to him to offer my condolences.
We exchanged a few private messages on FB. Always he wrote about his sadness. His loneliness. How much he missed her and how hard it was to live without her. My heart hurt deeply for him.
There is a condolence message on his obituary wall that ends with “Hope you have found peace.”
Rest in Peace, Billy. Thank you for being a part of my childhood – a time when we thought life would go on forever…
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” – from the movie STAND BY ME
So very true.