We’ll get to the dogs.
The weekend arrived with little energy. Retiring at 6 pm is a shameful escape, only lessened by the excuse that the television sits at the foot of the bed. I resolved to venture out before the episode of Undercover Boss where the furry mascot unmasks the bearded CEO. My outfit was unreasonable, a pink faux fur ring around my head, unmatched with a paisley fawn shearling coat just a half size too small. I had on a red skirt, blue leggings and hiking boots wrapped with velcroed cleets. I imagine myself as eclectic, not eccentric.
The trail is only fit for walking and running now. The snow changes from icy, to slush, to sandy in the tunnels. Out of a tunnel, I come upon an older couple reading a map. It’s not for me to resist aiding such easy prey to my over-helpful nature. Somehow they were not scared of my attire. It was dark.
Where are you going?
Where are you from?
I’ll walk you there.
Not that they asked me. I guessed that they were from Ireland and not the North or the Southern edge. They had to give me that they were from the West, Galway. They had just walked from downtown Anchorage to midtown and cursed the icy sidewalks in a polite kind of way. They had chosen the coastal trail for their return route. It has no lights, only stars, and a sewage treatment plant. It would be nice to say we walked in silence but they were with me, and we were all Irish.
We talked about the Galway arts festival which I attended many years ago. I saw The Field performed in Irish in a pub. It’s a very sad play but not so sad when you don’t completely understand the language. I remember the little boy was very good, and that drama can be wonderful without knowing the words. We talked about family. They knew the pub which had the same surname as mine. They knew the publican, (a great word), although he was dead now.
It doesn’t take long for death to pop up in a conversation with me. They encouraged me to check out Thomas Lynch, the poet and undertaker.
They were here for The Iditarod. I encouraged them them to check out Scott Janssen – The Mushin’ Mortician.
They were great walkers, had walked parts of The Camino de Santiago. “The most important thing is trust”, they said. “You will find a place to stay. You can’t call ahead. Someone will help you if you get hurt.”
It is not a party. It’s a pilgrimage to self.
I didn’t see them downtown the next day but I saw plenty of dogs.
It was pretty warm out so even though Anchorage must show off their furs when they can, there were some alternative outfits.
Viva the Iditarod!
There were also some alternative runners. They ran towards me because they thought I had food.
The above photo was taken about 20 minutes after I saw this guy come down the trail, so don’t worry there were no dog/duck interfaces.
I passed an older man walking on the trail home and mentioned how nice a day it was. He had not gone to see the dogs. He had seen them too many times. He had lived in Anchorage for 50 years but he still had an accent. It was only slightly different than the people I had met last night. He was from Kilronan on Inishmore. If you’ve never been there you might want to go if you love the Gaelic language or walking in the rain. I took an anthropological tour of the Aran Islands after visiting Galway. I can still taste how good the food was. People make fun of Irish food but when one has to grow it oneself, it’s pretty damn good.
“My father spoke Irish. I spoke it, and English as well. We had no cars, or electricity. I had to save myself from drowning once and that’s how I learned to swim.”
It makes me want to visit Ireland again. I remind myself that I can’t go everywhere or do everything. Sometimes the world will come to me, or I will meet the world as we walk together. Let the dogs run. I will walk and talk. I’m in no hurry.