Monday, October 12, 2009

The weather's beautiful; Wish you were here

A fair number of my Juneau friends are out of town right now. They're in places as far-flung as Australia and Argentina, but they all seem to be following the over-arching theme of being as far south from Juneau as possible. It is, after all, October. Like January for Fairbanks-dwellers and every month that isn't January for people who live in Phoenix, October is the month we Juneauites scratch out on our calendars months in advance. "Rain season! Run! Run away!" And most of us do. Even I, ever year up until now, scheduled a Grand Canyon trip in October. I wasn't able to this year, because I took three whole months off during the summer to tour around Utah and the Rocky Mountains (places which, for the record, were uncharacteristically rainy.) So this autumn, I get to be the one who's stuck here.

Recently, I was hanging around a friend's place on one of those uncharacteristically beautiful bluebird September mornings when he pulled out his Hawaii maps to go over his ambitions for a three-week October trip to Kauai. And I, seething with jealousy, said, "You should just stick around Juneau next month." He glanced out the window and said, "You know, if it was going to be like this, I would." He turned back to me and smiled. We both knew the truth. It wasn't.

Last autumn, Juneau set a number of Seasonal Affective Disorder-inducing records: 34 consecutive days of rain, a deluge of record daily rainfall, record-high wind speeds. That's what I was braced for when this autumn rolled around, and that's why I am in such a mountain-madness-inducing state of shock over what we've had, which has been, for lack of a better word: Seasonable.

This morning was just that. Crystal blue sky. Frosty temperatures climbing into the high 30s. Golden sunlight glazed across the Gastineau Channel. OK, it was windy. OK, it was really windy. We here in Juneau take what we can get. I donned my ridiculous-looking-but-warm expedition fleece balaclava and foldable-to-free-up-climbing-fingers mittens, and headed up Sheep Creek. The 45 mph wind gusts carried a hard chill from the northeast that bit at ever millimeter of exposed skin, and knocked me around enough that I only ventured a few hundred feet above treeline. I thought it was beautiful all the same. I took a self-portrait to send as an e-postcard to my friend in Hawaii.

And I'm sending it out as an open invitation to my friends (especially you, Jen): Come to Juneau; the weather's fine, and I will take you to meet my mountains.