Summer is here! The island is green, the sun sets but sits below the horizon for awhile so that it stays light forever, the days alternate between sunny and cloudy, flip flop weather and rain boot weather. This is the time of year we’ll miss most! Beautiful wildflowers, vibrant undergrowth, surprise animal sightings and bird songs everywhere, special times.
Having the daylight for most of 24 hours makes for some definite time confusion. You have to pay extra attention to the clock, because the sun will deceive you by several hours. It makes evening bonfires and hikes easier and more fun.
Summer is also transfer season, when Coast Guard friends move on. So each year we lose some friends from our circles and add new friends. This year much of our circle is dispersing, coasties and townies, over just about a calendar year.
I hate goodbyes. Passionately. But I thank God for friends special enough to make the goodbyes hard. For people we love enough to miss. They make me long for Home, an eternity of days spent in the Sonshine. But in the meantime we are enjoying the long days and time with friends while we have them!
Moving sounds like a waste of precious time, especially since we are hopefully moving back to the lower 48 early next year. But it has already proved to be worth it. We moved out of the trailer we rented when Janessa moved in with us and into an apartment in a 4-plex. It is bright, the neighbors are nice (our last neighbors were too), we have a dishwasher, and my allergies are already better. Worth it!
We are in a precious time, looking at friends leaving (again), looking at leaving ourselves. Looking at last experiences before we move. Last Crab Fest. Last Kodiak summer. Last chance to do things on the mainland before we move. Time feels short and we are trying to make the most of it.
It is bittersweet. We are excited, restless, anxious to be close to family and friends in our other homes again. Eager for game nights with siblings, walks with parents, visits with dear elders, zoos with nieces. And we are sad to be leaving great coworkers, special workplaces, a wonderful community and favorite, beautiful mountains and beaches. We’ll miss the wildlife, the abundant eagles, the intimate community, our small groups, long summer days, Alaska fashion.
This is home, as much as anywhere on earth can be, and this is precious. So we try to number our days and we keep living, holding the tensions of conflicting longings and thanking God for the blessing of this time. For over six years here in Kodiak.
(If you wanted to visit us before we leave, get your plane tickets soon!)
It’s Crab Fest! That’s the major Kodiak event, bigger than the fair. Jennifer was here for the beginning of it, which was fun! We enjoyed her visit greatly and already miss her a lot. We did some shopping, ate some great food from the booths, got soaked. Twice. See, this is spring/early summer and that means lots of rain. Which is good, it’s the reason we are called the Emerald Isle. Swollen rivers and ditches now, mud everywhere, means green is coming soon.
It looks like it will be a good summer for salmonberries, there are lots of bushes and they have lots of blossoms already. The last two years there have been hardly any berries, so this should be a great last summer. At least in that way. Assuming we do actually move next winter/spring. Which is still the plan.
Crab Fest isn’t very big or impressive by most standards. There is a small carnival, two aisles or booths with food, information and items for sale. But most of the community goes through at some point, often several times. It’s kind of like a family reunion, only for the whole city. And while Kodiak isn’t perfect, it is very much like a family. We will miss it.
Also, here’s a picture of Jen and Crystal. Jen was here when we got Crystal and Pepper. She walked up to a cat perch, Crystal climbed off of it onto her shoulder, and we adopted her. This visit she claimed Jennifer again in the first five minutes of Jen being here. This is not normal for here, usually this cat hides in the bedroom when we have company of any kind for the first while. She likes quiet and consistency. But old or not, she remembered Jen!
We are looking at a lot of coming transitions. In our friend circles, as mentioned in an earlier post, at work, in housing and in hopefully soon in states. As we look ahead to leaving Kodiak early next year, Lord willing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Thinking about packing again, moving again, starting new jobs with new coworkers, settling into a new neighborhood, relearning how to function in a city (or anywhere larger than our little community), it makes my head swim sometimes.
I like our small town. I like barely driving. It is great to have a rush hour that consists of a 6 car delay at stop signs. One stoplight suits me fine and the scenery here is hard to beat. Being so close to so many good trails is wonderful. I like recognizing people everywhere I go and having so many of our circles overlap with each other. I like the cooperation between churches here. The relationships between staff at the hospital (where I work) and the clinic (where Fred works). We have it pretty cush in a lot of ways and I enjoy that.
So we are savoring the moments while we are here and storing up memories. Is this our last Crab Fest? Our last Alaska summer? Maybe. Maybe God has a surprise coming, after all we’ve thought we were moving from Kodiak several times before and we’re still here.
Regardless, we will soak up the sun when it breaks through on these long summer days. We’ll cherish the times of laughter, games and discussion with friends. We’ll relish the camaraderie with our coworkers. We anticipate the island turning green again, salmonberries and fiddlehead ferns and beach walks and mountain hikes. The future can be scary, but we are in good hands and this place God has put us is good.
Kodiak is a place of shifting circles of people. It’s the nature of the place, part of the cost of living on this particular, special island. We have formed several circles of family since moving here. And have watched the people forming those circles move away. And put in the work of starting over. It is worthwhile effort; God has put some great people into our lives here. But watching your circle dissolve is never easy, not as a kid whose best friend is moving and not as an adult who is facing distance communication again.
Our current circle here is transitioning, in good and hard ways. We’ve been the token married couple in our core group, but two couples are joining us in the next few months (that’s a happy thing!). Our elementary school teacher friend is going to be teaching abroad (exciting for her, hard for us). Coastie friends are being transferred, non- Coastie friends preparing to move, that definitely means that it’s time to check out until we move ourselves (hopefully early next year?).
And yet even as I am mentally and emotionally trying to shield myself from any more painful goodbyes by hunkering down and focusing just on the remnants of our prior circles, God intervenes. We haven’t left yet and where we are present, God is working. Friends bring new friends to Bible study, widening our circle again and ministering to our hearts in different ways. We don’t talk about the upcoming departures, and I dread the holes they will make, but change isn’t always bad. This change isn’t all bad.
Kodiak has taught us a lot. Continues to teach us. About finances, skills in our jobs, discipline, friendship, family, flexibility, church. Sometimes I think that I have been stagnant since we moved here, but looking over the whole time I can see how both of us have grown mentally and spiritually. Not stagnant, just not sky rocketing. It feels like slow growth, but right now I don’t care. Time may seem like the enemy, but sometimes it’s okay to wait. Okay to meander. To watch your circles shift and to adapt with that. Not wasting time, but savoring it. Not a lesson I have learned, one that I am starting to learn.