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June 18, 2012: Absence, Part II

Pete and Christopher took off this morning on a road trip. They’re going to Kennecott and McCarthy, and will be back Wednesday evening. I was sad to see them depart. I wanted to go with them, but they decided to do this trip last night, so I didn’t have the time to nail down a house sitter.

Coincidently, I subsequently realized that I focused on absence in relation to material possessions in yesterday’s dispatch. It had occurred to me that absence in relation to people is equally important, but it then seemed like it was too much to take on in a single dispatch.

Pete and Christopher’s departure left me with a feeling akin to homesickness. It’s a rare feeling for me – I recall feeling it in college. Maybe being left behind and homesickness are both a form of loneliness. In this instance, the feeling is short term. The two will be back on Wednesday evening. I do not begrudge them this trip. As Pete so aptly said “Christopher didn’t come to Alaska just to go to Lowes.”

The long-term feeling is harder to deal with. The biggest drawback for many, (myself included) about living in Alaska is the distance between here and the Lower 48. Canada, at least a few thousand miles, is in between us and them.

The Kennecott Mill

Some come here to put distance between themselves and their relations. And some leave here because they’ve put too much distance between themselves and their relations. Go figure. I figure that those of us who relocated to this dog forsaken wilderness are ex-patriots who lack the courage to leave the country.

I sometimes feel like I’m paying a huge price for having decided to move here. This price is distance from friends and family members. For instance, I’d see a lot more of Christopher if we lived in the Lower 48. I try not to think about it, but there exists the possibility that when he leaves, I won’t see him again for another four years or so, if even that. He’s one of my oldest and closest friends, so for this reason, parting company will be difficult.

I also miss my family. I’m now deliberating about going to Portland in August and wondering if I can afford it. It should not be this way. And a trip to New Hampshire to see my father – for monetary reasons, this is near inconceivable.

It ought not be this way. But it is.

All these thoughts are today going around-and-around in my head like a Mobius strip. I ripped the strip today, by electing to spend time with my horses. And they did not disappoint. Sometimes they just know when to rise to the occasion.

I first rode Signy on an unfamiliar trail, one in which the cow parsnip is now six feet high. Hrimmi had a wonderful time, bounding through the brush. Jenna was with us. Signy happily powered her way along. There was no stuck chi today.

Then I took Raudi out. We first had to deal with the road grader. It left a rocky road in its wake. It will take some time before today’s damage is undone. Then we got on the Murphy Road trail, where Raudi first let out a sigh of relief, and then picked up an energetic trot. On a whim, I decided to take the Wendt Road Trail. It’s been so trashed by ATVs that it’s near impassible on horseback.

It was probably a stupid idea, to do this trail alone, considering how mucky and slippery it is. Fortunately, Raudi picked her way along the trail very carefully, never going too fast, and never going to slow. She was, I noticed, actually concentrating, and thinking about where to put her feet. We skirted bogs, crossed a log-strewn muddy creek, and clambered up slick hills. And I had her trot when we came to the good bits. It was a truly wonderful ride, on a truly wonderful horse. I finally took to safer trails because I figured that if she did slip and fall and hurt herself, that I would not be able to summon help.

Just how good are these horses? My basis for comparison is Tinni. Today my three mares gave him a run for his money.

I returned home, cleaned the goat pen, weeded, turned compost, and sorted buckets. Tonight I’ll clean the upstairs. The best way of dealing with short term absence is to keep busy and do things that are enjoyable. This way you don’t long for the passage of time. It’s too valuable to fritter away. And as you get older, you come to realize that you have less time to fritter.

Next: 193. 06/19/12: A Day in the Life