Monday, September 14, 2009

Good morning sun

The air was thick and saturated when I rode home at 1:15 a.m. last night. I cut through the cloud, draped in the blissful silence and blue glow of the hours that are neither today nor tomorrow, the solitude hours. Water vapor swirled in the beam of my headlamp, collecting on my clothes until I was so wet that it might as well have been raining. I smiled and breathed in sweet, damp air until I could almost taste the perfect day ahead. The are a lot of standard definitions that Juneau weather isn't (fair, dry, comfortable), but one thing it is, is predictable. Fog in the night means sun in the light.

I will go to great, great lengths to experience the little tastes of stark clear skies that Juneau is willing to send my way - not because they're unique, but because they're transcendent. So I was upset that Monday just happened to be the day I had a long block of meetings scheduled in the morning, starting at 10 a.m., followed by my normal work day that promised to keep me locked in an office building for at least 13 hours. I was not about to let that beat me. I set my alarm for 6 a.m., four hours after I went to sleep, for no real reason besides the promise of sunlight.

Even though clear skies over fog is the norm, it still requires a certain leap of faith to slouch out of bed in the gray light of dawn, look out over a yard still obscured behind a curtain of fog, with the neighborhood beyond completely shrouded, and assume that you will find UV rays if you climb. But that's what I did - because I was short on time, with my bike, up the Eaglecrest Road - and that's what I found. It did not take long.

Gray low, spectacular high.

Eventually, later in the day, this will all burn off and everyone will get sunlight. But in the early morning air, atop a frost-crusted mountain, the sun seemed to still belong only to me.

I did a little bit of hike-a-biking, trying to connect pieces of singletrack along the ridge. I was walking down a steep slope with my bike on my shoulder, when I reached a particularly marshy spot and put my bike down so I could stoop low to negotiate it. But I slipped before I was all the way down, skidding down the slope about five feet and losing my grip on my bike, which was propped up on its wheels. It rolled at least 20 feet by itself before toppling and flipping over the edge of a rocky outcropping. I watched in horror as it bounced like a crumpled can and disappeared into a void. I bolted up and foot-skied down the slope until I caught up to it. Luckily, damage was fairly minimal. The fall bent the poplock, snapped the fork-lockout cable and housing, and broke the back brake lever. I played with the cable until I was able to jam it back in the lever enough to get the brake to work again, a little, so I could at least get down the mountain. But, man, what a stupid fall! At least my body wasn't involved.

Then it was back down to the fog, the gray, the 13-hour workday on four hours of sleep. But I felt victorious because I had been out there, in the sun, and no one could take that away from me.

I used my dinner break to head out to my new apartment to pick up a key and drop off a few things. Moving day is tomorrow, or whenever I have time to actually do it (more 10 a.m. meetings tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.) It will be my first permanent residence in five months. I have been dreading it in some ways, because I will be living alone for the first time in four years, and it is out there - a fair distance from both work and town. But this picture, this is it - my new front yard, Fritz Cove. And as I stood here today, looking at a fresh dusting of snow on Stroller White, I felt a new sense of peace, and anticipation. Change is good.