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The Sun Magazine: Karen Greenwood

Taken from Sy Safransky's Notebook from the March 2007 issue of The Sun Magazine.

Read by Karen Greenwood: "The following quote speaks to me because as a yoga teacher, I seek to live and teach from a place of quiet presence, rather than routine." Karen, physical therapist and "Anusara-Inspired" yoga teacher, is a life-long student of sport and dance. Yoga found her in the mid-1990s and soon became her primary movement expression. She assumed the directorship of Inner Dance Yoga Studio in Anchorage in 2007.

Sy Safransky, editor and founder of The Sun Magazine, writes of perseverance:

"When I started The Sun, passion was all I had. I was young and broke but determined to keep the magazine alive, so I welcomed the challenge of staying up all night to finish an issue.... Thirty-three years later, ... I try to be fully present, whether I'm reading a stack of submissions ... or recycling my trash at the end of the day. I try to remember that the innumerable details involved in publishing The Sun are no less a part of my spiritual path than sitting cross-legged in meditation or getting on my knees to pray. I also try to keep in mind something the spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti once said, 'I do yoga every day' -- he meant every day for fifty years -- 'but I've never made a habit of it.'"

The Singing Wilderness: Lucian Childs

Taken from The Singing Wilderness by Sigurd F. Olson, published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Read by Lucian Childs: "In Alaska, spring is long in coming and it's hard won. But winter, too, plays its part." Lucian is a graphic designer and writer living in Anchorage.

In The Singing Wilderness, Sigurd F. Olson's first book, he describes the onset of spring for residents of the North.

"To anyone who has spent a winter in the north and known the depths to which the snow can reach, known the weeks when the mercury stays below zero, the first hint of spring is a major event. You must live in the north to understand it. You cannot just come up for it as you might go to Florida for the sunshine and the surf. To appreciate it, you must wait for it a long time, hope and dream about it, and go through considerable enduring."

A Sand County Almanac: Sarah Hanuske-Hamilton

Taken from A Sand Country Almanac, with essays on conservation from Round River, by Aldo Leopold, published by Oxford University Press.

Contributed by Laura Hoopes of Claremont, California. Read by Sarah Hanuske-Hamilton, a retired Alaska school superintendent: "For many years, I lived in the interior of Alaska, in the communities of Shageluk and McGrath. The change of seasons was based on the comings and goings of the geese." Although Sarah was a fan of Aldo Leopold's writings before moving to rural Alaska, it was the direct experience of living in Athabascan villages where she learned to feel the land, animals, plants, trees, weather, the people, and their stories deep into her bones. It brought an experience of freedom unmatched anywhere else.

This reading in A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold is especially meaningful to me.

"One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.

A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed. But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges."

Gathering Berries: Aleesha Towns

Taken from "Gathering Berries" by Aleria Jensen, published in the September/October 2007 issue of Orion magazine.

Contributed by Laura Hoopes of Claremont, California. Read by Aleesha Towns-Bain: "In winter, I find myself dreaming of fruit. New to Alaska, I've done my picking in Colorado. Now, I wonder what summer and fall will bring me in my new home." Aleesha recently arrived in Alaska, pursuing a passion for mountains, the outdoors and exploring diverse cultures. A recovering small-town newspaper editor, she is now a program associate at the Rasmuson Foundation.  

In "Gathering Berries," biologist Aleria Jensen describes picking tart, Alaskan berries.

Gathering Berries

"All we do is show up. Wake up, drink our coffee, jump in the car, head for these boggy slopes. Expect the land to provide. And it does. Despite the soggy ones, there are plenty of good berries. Plenty for us, for bears and birds and insect larvae. Plenty for muffins, pancakes, and smoothies. ...

I find myself feeling a huge gratitude, not only for what the land shares, but what it endures. ...

Within it, each fruit holds what I hold: an accumulation of place. The tangy explosion of these northern berries on the tongue is the landscape communicating itself, an expression of its essential wild character. Taste me -- here is your peat moss, your snowmelt, your glacial till. Here is your hemlock root, your jack pine, your overwintering bee. Taste me."

A Guest of the World: Dave Keller

Taken from A Guest of the World: Meditations by Jeffrey Lockwood, published by Skinner House Books.

Read by Dave Keller: "I buy raffle tickets." Dave works on the Slope and has made Alaska his home since 2005. He loves Alaskans and living in Alaska; he enjoys outdoor activities and recommends the Ducks Unlimited website. Dave continues to believe he holds the winning ticket.

In his book of meditations, A Guest of the World, Jeffrey Lockwood describes how insights can lurk in the most ordinary of objects:

"I don't enter raffles believing that I'll win. ... But being something of an unwitting connoisseur of raffle tickets, I've come to realize that often they include an unexpectedly compelling insight. On one side is a string of numbers, reflecting the utter arbitrariness with which the world seems to unfold. There might also be a list of prizes, the items that can be won with a bit of luck. ...

But the real insight is printed on the back of the ticket, where few people bother to look. Raffle tickets warn us, "You must be present to win." In life, showing up is often the battle. But of course, simply being somewhere physically is not the same as being present. I don't know how many drawings I might have won if I'd been present. But I do know that if life is a raffle, you can't possibly win if you're not there...."