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January 1, 2011: Ringing in the New Year

We rang in the New Year by going to visit friends. This was no mean feat, the Brunkes live over an hour away, off Knik Goose Bay Road. It was a good time—the area is a bit more populated than ours, so the collective fireworks display was quite impressive. At midnight, we went outside and stood on their deck and took in the show. It was -15 or so, very cold—this made me realize how in Alaska in the winter we are so very close to the edge. Without warm gear (and right now I’m mainly thinking of my Steger mukluks) winter is a differing experience. One doesn’t stay out as long, consequently missing a great deal of what nature has to offer.

The inside conversation was littered with talk about technology—there were iPhones, iPads, and digital cameras on hand. And being Alaska, the guys pulled forth our headlights and after shining the light on the dining room ceiling, compared light beams. I left my headlight in the truck, or I too would have pulled it out.

I took my new iPad along—I figure that I am going to continue to take it to gatherings. This way, people can show me their favorite apps. And if I wish, I can then order them. I saw a handful last night I liked. There’s a drawing app, a daily photo app, a news app. I’m not big on games, but there were a few that I’d play if they are handy. I also want to get the Canadian Film Board app.


View of Mountains behind house
View of Talkeetna Mountains behind house


Alys and Signy out for a walk
Alys and Signy out for a walk

What most interested me is how (and I saw this happen last night) technology now connects people. I’m not talking about technology itself, but about the talk about technology. My friend Dawn and I had a very good time together, looking at various apps, and conversing about the applicability of them to our lives. At the same time, there was considerable random commentary. My favorite photo, for example, is the one of the man and his wife who are into showing chickens. The power of the visual is that it lets one free associate. This couple is obviously into chickens in a big way. They are probably seen as being a bit crackers by their neighbors, who wonder why they lavish such time and attention on supposedly stupid birds. And of course the pair are quick to defend their feathered friends, who they see as being quite smart.

The technology has its down side in that it might also distance people from one another. One has to strike a balance between being in constant contact with people, and also, carving out time for oneself, time in which one listens to their own inner voice.

We got home at 3:30 a.m. and then did our evening chores. The horses, chickens, and goats had to be watered, fed, and cleaned up after. Pete and I worked in the cold, by the orb of our two headlights. I deduced that there had also been some fireworks here since the horse poop was scattered about the pen. There was also a lot of it.

At one point I turned off my headlight and looked around. The darkness enveloped me—I felt the cold air enter my lungs, and the warm air leave. I could see the quarter moon, and to the left of it, a distant star. The only sounds that I heard were that of a horse snorting and the rest chewing on hay.

Taking the time to tend to the animals was, for me, the year’s grande finale, a good way of putting the old year to rest and ringing in the new one. As importantly, I was then able to reflect upon the evening’s events, and put them in the context of my other life experiences.

Next: 27. 12/3/11: The Light Within