Window seat: one last gift from Alaska

I had every intention of sleeping on my 9:25pm flight out of Anchorage to Minneapolis, but the mesmerizing views from my window seat caught my attention and refused to let go for quite some time.

IMAG1839At first, my mind is completely present, attempting to take it all in – the countless snow-covered mountains, the water, the clouds; working in conjunction to create the scenery before me, which seems so still as we swish by. Eventually, though, my thoughts begin to seep out into the clouds, swirling over the mountains and getting lost in the vastness. My mind wanders into the past ten days I have just lived: my bedroom window taking up the majority of the wall, allowing sunlight to illuminate the room at almost all hours of the day and providing a view of the river visible through the trees; my growing fondness for Papa Bear (John); the wonderful Melemthia bonding (Melemthia = MELissa + EMma + CynTHIA); the car rides with Papa Bear and the cubs, filled with laughter and magnificent views (cubs = Melemthia + Ryan); the many lakes visited in our quest for stickleback; my next blog post…

The night before, I had attempted to start writing a post explaining my delightful experience

Melemthia

Melemthia

at Lynne Lake that day. However, I had found myself unable, as I often do, to translate my thoughts into words. Now, as I sat staring out the airplane window but no longer absorbing the sight of the mountains below, I made an effort to break down the experience into fragments I could describe with words. What had been so great about being in a dry suit? To start, I was finally able to indulge in my temptation to jump into the water, which I had refrained from doing in previous lakes. But the dry suit was more than simply being in the lake – it allowed me to see, breath, and stay warm and afloat in the water for hours, thus inviting me to explore the world that sticklebacks inhabit. My job was to swim transects across a section of the lake and record data regarding my stickleback encounters. Even though I only saw one or two fish during my first few minutes in the water, it was thrilling to commence traversing the lake while my eyes searched for movement, noting the changes in depth and bottom cover and the way in which light rays sparkled in the water. My excitement intensified as I began to encounter more and more stickleback and had the opportunity to experience first-hand some of the behaviors that had been described to me previously. Even if my understanding of the situations I observed was only partial in most cases, it was enough to captivate my attention and increase my curiosity and desire to partake in the study of their behavior.

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After reliving the experience that left me marveling at Lynne Lake, I woke up to see darkness outside my window. Sleep had come without me realizing it, and my time in Alaska appeared to be a distant memory.

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