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A daily 1-minute thought.

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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."



A River Runs Through It: T.L. Ridges

Taken from "A River Runs Through It" in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean, copyright 1976 the University of Chicago, and used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.

Contributed by Larry Brown of San Francisco. Read by Thelma "T.L." Ridges: "This piece reminds me of my mother offering and helping others. For me, offering help is what is expected." Thelma is a long-time resident of Anchorage and a Social Skills teacher and theater/choir director at William Tyson Elementary. She is also a strong advocate and member of The Links, Incorporated.

In "A River Runs Through It," Norman Maclean and his father try to help his brother, Paul:
 
'"Help," he said, is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly.

So it is ... that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don't know what part to give or maybe we don't like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed. It is like the auto-supply shop over town where they always say, 'Sorry, we are just out of that part.'"

"We are willing to help, Lord, but what if anything is needed?"

... "It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us."'



A Walk in the Woods: Shelly Morgan

Taken from A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, published by Broadway Books.

Read by Shelly Morgan: "I work for The Nature Conservancy in Alaska and am a member of the Alaska Women's Environmental Network board. I spent a few years living in the woods on and off again. Not just camping - but living." Shelly loves to share the great Alaskan wilderness with her son Robert, as he too develops a great love for nature.

Bill Bryson hiked the Appalachian Trail, leaving and returning to it. Over the months, he notice a pattern, which he describes in A Walk in the Woods:

"At the end of the first day, you feel mildly, self-consciously, grubby; by the second day, disgustingly so; by the third, you are beyond caring; by the fourth, you have forgotten what it is like not to be like this. Hunger, too, follows a defined pattern. On the first night you're starving for your noodles; on the second night you're starving but wish it wasn't noodles; on the third you don't want the noodles but know you had better eat something; by the fourth you have no appetite at all but just eat because that is what you do at this time of day. I can't explain it, but it's strangely agreeable."



Listening Point: Jo-Ann Mapson

Taken from Listening Point by Sigurd F. Olson, published by University of Minnesota Press and used by permission.
Read by Jo-Ann Mapson, "a big fan of rain, even in August." jo-Ann is the author of nine novels, most recently The Owl & Moon Cafe published by Simon & Schuster. She is married to artist Stewart Allison and teaches in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at UAA. Her website is: www.joannmapson.com.

In his book Listening Point, Sigurd Olson revels in "The Sound of Rain:"

‘Last night in my tent I listened to the rain. ... The tent, on the little rise with its thick cushion of bearberry, had perfect drainage all around, and the ropes were tied to two good trees. The gale could blow now and the rain come down, but I would be safe and dry the rest of the night. I settled down luxuriously to enjoy a sound I had known on countless campsites in the wilderness.
...
As I lay there, I too seemed to expand and grow, become part of the lushness and the rain itself and of all the thirsty life about me. This is one of the reasons I like to hear the rain come down on a tent. I am close to it then, as close as one can be without actually being in it.
...
"In my old tent somewhere, safe and dry with nothing to do but listen to the rain come down."'