It seems, in so many ways, like I just got here. I was in Anchorage first, of course, but it really feels like I just arrived in Kodiak. I can still remember the bumpy plane ride in, the bright sunshine hitting my face as I stepped onto the tarmac, and the amazement at landing right under this amazing, lustrous, green mountain. I remember driving in, marveling at the water, (being a little bit more amazing at the greenery), seeing the harbor for the first time, and crossing the bridge onto Near Island for the first time. I remember my first walk through town like it was yesterday, and in so many ways, I feel like I shouldn’t be leaving just yet.
I’ve already said that this has been a charmed time here; time has been passing at such a quiet rate, and that’s part of why I’m so amazed to be here – ready to leave. I’m all packed, checked out of my apartment, and prepared to board a plane in four hours. It’s hard to imagine leaving for many reasons, and I have to say that I really don’t feel ready. I’m desperately excited to see my family, to see my dog, and to sleep in my own bed (and to bake. I can’t even tell you how excited I am to have regular access to a grocery store again), but – everyone tells you that Kodiak can get a grip on you, and it doesn’t let go.
It’s not hard for me to imagine living here. I would miss having actual summer weather, I think, and I’m still not sure how well I’d handle the winters, and frankly, the cost of travel in and out of here is quite intimidating. But the quietness, the closeness of the community here, the immediacy of the wilderness, and the lure of both the mountains and the ocean is a hard call to ignore. I love the possibility of a life sustained by the land and the ocean. It is clear to me that this is a place I could be happy, and leaving it is hard.
I had the most wonderful end to my trip yesterday. The family friends of one of my good friends here invited me to go on a quick kayaking trip with them, so mid-day yesterday, we loaded their boat with snacks and kayaks and headed north out of town. We dropped a longline for halibut, then headed to Long Island (an island that was previously used by the Navy for training) and went out on a beautiful kayak. I haven’t been kayaking since Mexico, but it’s a comfortable thing to do, and even while you’re working, it’s incredibly relaxing. The scenery here helps with that, of course, but it was just so wonderful to quietly glide through the water and watch the island around us. We took a short hike up to the top of the island to look for sea lion colonies, and then dropped back down past the bunkers and the Quonset huts. We kayaked back to where the boat was anchored and ate a wonderful dinner on the beach, the smoke from the fire blowing around us and keeping us warm. Late that night, we went back to the longline and pulled in two halibut and a cod (some of which I’m taking home!) before heading back to Dog Bay. D- filleted the fish, and we headed our separate ways.
This morning brought frantic packing and cleaning, all the while my mind’s eye was thinking of kayaking quietly, looking for sea otters, and enjoying the beauty of a quiet beach. I am looking forward to the warmth of the Colorado mountains, the happy tail wag of my dog, and hugs from my family, but part of me will often think of this place, and remember the peace it brought.