An Alaska Frame of Mind

Not everyone should live in Alaska. If your addictions include high heels and hecticity, this is probably not the place for you.  Every Alaskan, whether native or newcomer, orients their personal perspective to the relentless assault of the humbling forces of Nature that reign here. Outdoor Christmas lights are hung in October. Moose have the right-of-way. Halloween costumes are worn outside your kid’s parka. You adapt.

Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun on the Arctic shore

The payback for your efforts is amazing. The scenery in every direction is breath-taking. The view from a small plane will give you religion. There are streams of bright red salmon, rookeries of seals and seabirds, the freshest air on the continent, the midnight sun in Summer, and the Northern Lights in Winter.

It fosters an independent spirit that is damnably self-reliant, mischievously irreverent, and decidedly genuine. Check your airs and facades at the door, or be prepared to be the butt of a lot of snide comments. At the same time, you will find a ready generosity when the need arises.

There some great books that capture many aspects of the human condition in the Great Land. The favorite for many Alaskans was one of the first attempts to portray the unique vignettes of life in North. It is called Coming into the Country. A more recent version of the same genre is Looking for Alaska, by Peter Jenkins. Another true story of a quintessential Alaskan tale of living simply in this forbidding environment is One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey. Not surprisingly, you’ll even find a little philosophy, inspired by Alaska’s Inside Passage, in The Island Within.

Denali Rainbows

Even storms can be magical at Denali

The granddaddy of them all is Michener’s Alaska: A Novel. Alaskans are not that fond of it because it is not universally complimentary. However, it is an heroic assimilation of most essential Alaskan themes. There is a lesser known Michener sequel about British prospectors who traverse Canada on their way to Dawson in 1898, called Journey.