The moon sits above Mount Redoubt on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 near Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

The moon sits above Mount Redoubt on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 near Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of Office: Chasing sunshine

The winter solstice fell on a beautiful Tuesday last month. I woke up to flickers of sunshine peeking through the gaps in the curtains and knew it was going to be a good day. Daylight has that effect.

I took the long way to work that day instead of the more practical, shorter Kenai Spur route. I tend to do so on days when the sky is clear and the mountains are visible — when it’s clear sunlight was taken for granted in my native southern California. There’s something about a sunny morning that makes everything feel OK.

Along the bends in K Beach, a fuschia Redoubt popped up intermittently at the end of the thoroughfare’s offshoots. Near Ciechanski, I could feel the rising and the alpenglow hues slipping away and tried to guess the number of seconds that remained. The final turn onto Bridge Access didn’t disappoint.

The crests of Redoubt and Iliamna split the sky behind frozen flats and snow soaked in golden light while a pale moon hung in the sky. The mouth of the turnoff to Kenai Flats seemed as good a place as any to take it all in. Undoubtedly one of the best parts of winter is getting to catch the sunrise and sunset every day.

A deep breath caused my lungs to fill with frigid air and I pictured them crystallizing. Deep breathing is supposed to be a good way to reduce anxiety and relieve stress. In. Out. The feeling is electrifying and makes facing the world seem a little less daunting. Of course, the sunlight helps too.

Of course, nothing in the serene landscape hinted at the tectonic plates preparing to shift underfoot. The 5.2 earthquake that rattled the central peninsula later in the day and sent me ducking and covering under a desk was an unexpected, albeit exciting, twist to the day.

It’s easy to let everything wrong in the world weigh you down. To get so lost in the endless stream of bad news that we forget that sunny days exist. Trying to stay positive is like trying to catch up to the sunrise alpenglow. It’s sometimes a conscious choice we have to make, to deviate from our usual route or be willing to take the long way.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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