It's been a while. I did not intend to follow my post on the battle to write with an extended absence. But I like to think that all this living I've been doing will inform my writing. This past week has been filled with nothing but work and recovering from work. Our patisserie hosted a booth at Oak Park's Oaktoberfest this weekend, featuring Bavarian style pretzels and cream puffs with Bavarian cream. It was a good time. The weather was perfect - just the right amount of autumn crispness in the air. Our pretzels and puffs were a hit, and by the end of it we were all sort of stumbling around in an exhaustion-induced stupor.
Before that, I was away, frolicking around the wild Alaskan frontier. A good friend of mine lives in Fairbanks, AK and my visit was long overdue. I left Chicago and after much ado arrived in Fairbanks, a day and a half later, to some of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. We drove down to Valdez for a few days of camping and fishing. I couldn't read on our drive down for fear I'd miss a mountain, much less a moose or bear. Autumn has fully arrived in Alaska, all the tree tops have been doused in shades of gold. Is it possible to have too many photos of mountains? Valdez is just how I imagined Alaska - a tiny little fishing village along the coast of Southeast Alaska with the mountains at its back. Fisherman flock to the local bakery for a morning coffee and everyone schlepps around in their Xtra Tufs, the chosen boot of Southeast Alaska. We braved the cold and constant rain for a few solid hours of salmon fishing - all the salmon are headed up stream to spawn and die. I caught my first salmon, saw my first moose and imagined what it would be like to hole up in a cabin somewhere in the Alaskan wilderness, one of the toughest and most extreme landscapes I've seen. En route to Denali National Park we stopped at Stampede Road, and I remembered Chris McCandless' own despairing fate in wild Alaska. It is a place of great glory, yet far from glamour.
The view from where I sit is rather plain in comparison. There's not much to be said for mountains in Chicago. There is no wildlife on my walk to work. And if I want to fish, I must go to Montrose Harbor, with Lake Michigan as a small stand in for the ocean. But all my travels have helped me realize the great purpose with which we have been created and placed. I find joy in knowing that I am where I am for a purpose. I believe that God desires us to embrace the place in which we find ourselves - whether it be Chicago or the Alaskan frontier. The amazing thing about this wild ride is that we are like those streams of salmon, ever on the move and working towards a greater realization of our purpose.
I think a lot about transformation and renewal. The change of seasons always brings me back to the thought that we are living beings, surrounded by other living things. We do not grow and grow and grow until we reach a peak where we remain. Our lives, our bodies, our minds and spirits are forever in motion, caught in this graceful rhythm of life and death. We must simply be awake enough to see it and to embrace it, otherwise like my journey to Valdez, we could finally get "there" (wherever or whatever "there" is) only to have missed all the beauty in our wanderings.