Fall leaves frame a shot of Kenai Lake on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: To everything, there is a season

We don’t really have “seasons” where I’m from. It stays an amicable 75 degrees and sunny pretty much all year, even in January.

A temperate southern California limbo marked by sun-bleached stucco and 10-lane freeways. It’s beautiful in its own way, but it took moving to Alaska for me to appreciate the beauty of how seasonal shifts carve up the year into chunks.

Sept. 11 was a gorgeous day in Cooper Landing. Armed with a packed lunch, a book and a camping chair, I set up at the Quartz Creek Campground to soak up some sun. While crimson leaves fell around me and a soft autumn breeze swept through the trees, the turquoise water of Kenai Lake sparkled like diamonds where the sun hit it.

Other people apparently had the same idea to take advantage of the sunny day. Young children skipped rocks while small waves lapped their ankles, while their parents watched from the rocky shore and people launched colorful kayaks. Couples strolled hand-in-hand between the trees and family dogs fetched sticks from the water as if in a loop.

In times of such social and political calamity, it was nice to see that a group of strangers could mill about harmoniously in a shared space and agree that such a beautiful day was worth taking time to appreciate. Watching the central peninsula transform in and out of plush greenery and rainbow wildflowers, fluffy blankets of snow, gloomy autumn hues and sun-splashed skies has been similarly satisfying.

I like to think that our body politic is going through a similar period of transition, out of which will come a community that uses the shared struggles of the past two years as something around which we can unify to propel us forward. I hope a transition into that state comes as seamlessly as a seasonal shift from autumn to winter, but really I think it will require action on the part of individuals.

It will require people to have compassion for one another and the silent struggles we’re all going through. It will require minds that are receptive to hearing ideas that challenge our own beliefs and respect to allow those ideas to be shared and debated. It will require concessions that no one knows everything and that most people are doing the best with what they have.

In the meantime, I think it’s OK to focus on just taking things one day at a time. To appreciate pockets of tranquility amid the turmoil and to remind ourselves that this too shall pass. Like our environment, we as a body politic go through times of transition, ebbs and flows, even if that transition is not as visual as the change of leaves from green to red.

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

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