Winter hikes, and the snowiest thanksgiving I’ve ever had

Dear friends,

It is officially the holiday season! Tis the season for lights and potlucks and Frank Sinatra playlists and Advent wreaths, and I am so ready to welcome all of it. We have these great snowflake stamps at the coffee shop and my coworker and I have taken to stamping bright blue snowflakes on just about everything we can reasonably stamp (and several unreasonable things).

This week and half has been very snowy indeed, and it’s been so beautiful. I love the mountains of Juneau – I always have, but they take on a different kind of beauty when they’re blanketed in snow. The trees and valleys create a pattern of inky black shadow that is tinged with the silver of the snow and it’s breathtaking. I cannot stop looking at them.

Snows this beautiful are not a dime a dozen, even in Juneau, and as a result I’ve made it a point to get outside into the woods and out of town and just soak it up. A new friend of mine offered to be a hiking guide for me, and we took the afternoon off to wander a bit on Perseverance trail and on the side of Mt. Roberts. Layered up in flannel jeans and extra-Tuffs, we wandered the hillsides of Alaskan wilderness for a bit and then (of course) ended our hike with a hot cappuccino.

The rest of the week was spent working and preparing for turkey day! I’ve been trying to get some solid time in studio because there’s actually quite a bit of work that I need to create over the next few months. I was invited to sell some work in a little pop-up maker’s market at a local distillery here, and then I have art classes to prep for and a show in March for which I need to make work. **Shameless promotion: if you ever need commissions for yourself or a friend, just let me know. Handmade art makes for a unique and meaningful gift!

You may be curious to know how my first thanksgiving away from home was spent, and how I felt. I wasn’t sure how I would feel either, actually! For the weeks leading up to the holidays, it’s just felt surreal that they’re even happening at all. Life is so different now, so the fact that the holidays are coming as they always do is a funny thought. By the time thanksgiving day rolled around I was more mentally prepared, and while it wasn’t a breeze to be away from my typical group of friends and family for the holiday, it was a day full of friends and family nonetheless.

My family took me out to the glacier for a snowy sledding and hiking adventure. It was SO fun. We walked on Mendenhall Lake and crossed half-frozen creeks. We hiked out to the tremendous waterfalls that I’ve only experienced in the summer months, which were now covered with crags of ice and frosty sculptures of running water freezing and thawing. It was an incredible juxtaposition of a roaring, pounding waterfall with the silent stillness of ice, one right on top of the other. The snow was falling and it was all white – you couldn’t even see Mt. McGinnis rising up over the shoulder of the glacier.

After our snow-laden, winter playground experience, we headed home to prepare our contribution to the thanksgiving potluck we were attending later at the home of family friends. It was a beautiful meal, and we all had plenty of leftovers to graze on throughout the week. All day long, the snow was falling in big, soft flakes and blowing into drifts on fence posts, trees, and rooftops. Back home, I can’t remember really having snow on thanksgiving, and certainly never in these quantities. It was oddly very comforting to me. I’m sitting here thinking about why the snow somehow eased the homesickness that would sometimes creep into my thanksgiving day, but I really can’t find a reason. It’s just a mysterious gift, I guess. Maybe that’s just the way beauty works.

I hope that you all had a moment to reflect on the good things this thanksgiving. I hope it was shared with people you love. I’m grateful for all of you and I feel blessed to have people to write to from my snowy little coffee shop in Alaska. I’m thinking of you and praying for you all.

Happy holiday season!


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