I arrived in Anchorage around 11:30 pm April 29th 1997 with Fred, the cantankerous poet from Canarsie. We were prepared with pots, plates and forks just in case we couldn’t buy things like that cheap up here. Fred was not someone to be overawed by things but I could sense even he thought it was eerie when it wasn’t dark upon our arrival.
But back to the present. One of the reasons I stayed and Fred left, (not the one that he insisted was true, that I was running away from my life) but the one I value the most, is being awed by the crazy natural forces here. They humble me. Like today, it was snowing cottonwood. I didn’t grow up with this stuff and now I’ve lived here for about 13 years and I still find it awesome. The pollen swirling in the wind looks a bit like The Milky Way but in the sunlight. I used to think I was horribly allergic to it but that was when I was working on the railroad. I think the combination of diesel, gravel dust and exhaustion topped off my allergy cup.
Fred wasn’t very keen on Anchorage. Not many people are. Fred thought it closed down too early. Other friends of mine can’t wait to get out of town on the weekends. I just found out that someone carved a throne into a broken tree stump near the creek across from my house. I can get there in less than 2 minutes. Sure I can hear traffic but also like a thousand birds and trees singing their own little tunes. The cars are just like a bass line. The gentle Anchorage sun shines on my throne, the pollen floats by on the creek like swans’ moultings. The grass folds to the rhythm of the breeze. Sure there’s a fire truck in the background but I’m no fool. I might need one of them someday.
I tried to take a photo of the pollen floating by in sun. Billions of small puffs refused to captured for posterity. I can see why. They’re magical. They embody the urge to survive and to procreate on the largest and yet the lightest scale. So hopeful are those little puffs of floating to their destination of fertile ground that I can’t help but rejoice in their mass migration. They lack the determination of the tiny sperm of the sex education videos and instead put their trust in the air. I have never thought of myself as a romantic person, but if I can fall in love with pollen that should count for something.