As if it it had been invisible before, a trail appeared out of the woods. I followed footsteps through the rotten snow that slurped into my hiking shoes and soaked the legs of my pants. No matter; the fresh air and sunshine filtering through the ratty needles of the taiga made the day irresistible. I’ll find my way.
As soon as I’m clear of the bench lands, the sky opens up and I’m more than human. If I open my arms, I can swallow the sky. If I breathe in enough, I can bring the spring by sheer force of will. (Or so I believe, with adrenaline coursing in me. Mountain climbing does this to people, I hear.)
But there is no feeling or sight that has given me more protective affection so far for nature than the Kenai River. This streak of blue, this vein that brings life to the forest and the grasslands and the mountains, is nothing more than a causeway with water full of rubble, but it’s the very cradle of life for this place. The Kasilof River, too, but I haven’t felt as much love for that stream. Perhaps one day I will. But every time I see the Kenai from this height, with its glacier-teal face smiling back at me, I feel some small rush of pride.
Yes, I can see how people can stay here always.