I stand in the afternoon sunshine, eyes closed, jacket unzipped, no hat or gloves. In my heart, there dances a chimera.
With the rays of the sun warming my face, I am almost beguiled into believing that winter is soon over, is almost a season well on the way to being chased out of town by the lengthening daylight and the rising temperatures of spring.
Reality clamors for attention in a more sensible part of my brain, but I ignore it until the loud click of the gas nozzle indicates my truck is full. That rude interruption into my fantasy brings me back to the Costco gas station in Anchorage, the reality of $3.74 a gallon gasoline, and that the day is February 7 in Alaska. February, mind you. In Alaska, I repeat.
I replace the nozzle and the gas cap and look around the Costco parking lot. Everywhere I look, Alaskans are acting like it’s spring. No one wears hats or gloves. Jackets and coats are unzipped. Chimeras can’t be seen but I’m guessing there are many hanging out in this snow covered lot today, all working their way into receptive and willing hearts and minds.
The temperature? In the high twenties.
We aren’t out of this yet, I remind myself as I pull the receipt out of the slot and look at the total.
Seven more weeks in which the temperature can easily slide way below zero, seven more weeks in which several feet of snow can fall, seven more weeks of winter. April?
April’s a crap shoot.
One never knows what April can bring. It can be gentle; it can be ferocious. Or, as Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times.” That’s April. Schizophrenia in nature. The only sure thing about April is that in thirty days it will be May, and May is much more reliable.
The drive into Anchorage was reality itself. In the space of five miles along Turnagain Arm, there is one vehicle sideways in a snow bank, and holes where five others had been. Black ice coats the asphalt, invisible ice formed by sudden warm temperatures after weeks of below zero cold. I switch to four-wheel drive for better steering and braking.
The chimera refuses to leave. It dances over my shoulder like a sun dog as I drive through Anchorage to the far side of town. All the errands on my long list are crossed off, all but the most important: Visiting a housebound friend, and delivering groceries and a prescription to her.
She greets me at the door with a hug and I watch her walk back into her condo living room. She walks better than she has in more than a year. Four weeks after hip replacement surgery, four weeks after banishing horrendous pain from her body, and she walks with confidence. Her voice is free of the pain, her face is free of the pain, her body is free of the pain.
She is a new person and one with a bright future. I leave the springtime chimera with her, where it belongs, and drive home to Moose Pass.