Gratitude, and a glimpse into Juneau summertime

Dear friends,

Yesterday, in Juneau, I wore SHORTS for the first time this summer. And drank ICED coffee. And put on SUNSCREEN. This is exciting stuff. It’s funny though, because so many of the cruise ship passengers are still wearing winter coats and hats, even though it is seventy degrees and sunny 🙂

So yeah, it’s been warm. Sweaty even. Kids eating Popsicles all over the place. Because seventy degrees feels really, really warm up here. (Here’s where all my Cincinnati friends scoff because their city is in a river valley which is currently experiencing 90 degree weather with a blanket of humidity)

In other news, June has been the month of visitors and summer activities and crazy ups and downs. My cousin, Sarah, is here for the summer working and doing the Alaska life. My grandparents were here for three weeks while my aunt and uncle were in France. My dear friend, Tiffany, came to visit for a week. Two of my good friends in Juneau just got married last weekend. The Catholic Young Adult Group is putting together events and retreats and growing together as a community. It’s summer life in full swing!

This summer, I think partly because of the busyness, I’ve been drawn to notice the little details of the in-and-out, everyday life. The things I love to notice in the winter are still there, but painted with the colors of summer. The foliage under the stairs by my house is now so lush that it pokes up through the metal grates and brushes my feet. I can feel it because I’ve traded out my X-tra Tuff boots for Teva sandals. On my usual walk to the grocery store, I pass my neighbors’ house. I often find them fixing up one thing or another – repairing a drainpipe, stripping an old door of its latex paint (“Because the wood just wants to breathe, Megan”), or I’ll see them sitting on their back patio, eating fresh fruit and sandwiches with homemade jam while the laundry dries on lines in the sunshine.

The shops have their doors open to let in the warm air, and the hum and buzz of downtown spills out onto the streets. Folks take leisurely walks in the evenings, licking ice cream cones and stopping to chat with neighbors. Every week there’s a new wildflower blooming. People bring bags of rhubarb from their garden to the the local coffee shop where the owner exchanges fresh rhubarb for store credit so that he can make his famous Rhubarb Sorbet. The King Salmon are running and it seems that every night someone is making rockfish tacos, grilling halibut, or smoking salmon. The seaplanes drone industriously back and forth from the Hangar in Gastineau Channel to Taku inlet, giving tourists a high-level view of our little corner of Southeast.

These are the kind of details that remind me why I fell in love with this place, the details that make me present to daily life and that linger in my memory as I fall asleep.

It was a joy to share these moments with Tiffany when she visited. We did a little bit of everything – hiked out to the falls on Perseverance Trail with a picnic, walked the Flume above the neighborhood and down to Coppa for coffee, went out the road to the Shrine and Eagle Beach, walked through fields of blooming lupine, ate fresh Alaskan salmon, took walks along the channel on startlingly beautiful days…she really got a great taste of Juneau in the summer.

It is good for me to revisit the sweetness of being here in this place. Because to be honest, I’m homesick. I have a trip to Indiana in the books, and time just seems to be crawling until I can be there with my family and reconnect with people and places I haven’t seen in a year. And while it is not bad or wrong to miss home, it would be a shame to miss out on the golden sweetness of a laid back, beautiful Juneau summer. To wake up in the middle of October and realize that I spent the past three months walking through a haze. I always find that a little bit of gratitude grounds me and reconnects me to the blessings which might otherwise escape my notice. Gratitude helps me to be content with where I am, to be deeply satisfied with life, even if it isn’t exactly what I had in mind. To wait joyfully and patiently until the next step arrives. Because goodness is being extended to us – we simply have to look up, reach out, and accept it with gratitude.

Thinking of you, missing you, can’t wait to see you,

Megan

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