There is the morning sun, lighting the tops of the trees whose leaves are still unfolding. There are the swallows, recently returned from their winter travels. Like me.
There is the cabin where my baby was born, back when our house was small and our family expanding. I know those times were hard. There was water to haul, fires to stoke, and mouths to feed. I was a young woman who sometimes crumbled under the weight of responsibility. But now, when I look at this cabin, I just think of the birth of our family.
There is the horse corral. Some of the spruce poles have broken, and inside it is over grown. I remember when it was being built. It seemed so big. But it wasn’t enough for the stallion who owned it. He was beautiful, Black and White. He came to us through dreams we had at the time.
There is my garden. The beds, covered with last year’s death, are waiting for new life. It’s time. The fence is tall and strong, we built it that way after the horses escaped and trampled the vegetables I labored over. This garden has been soaked by rain. And tears. And well water that—finally—came over the years.
There is the trail, worn down from many footprints and a few ATVs. Nearly every morning, through many seasons, I followed where it leads. It goes to a place that feels like me.
There is the river; it is clear this time of year. In a couple more weeks, the Kings will come. I hope this river will always support that run. They travel by, on their way to Sinona. The same river. The same creek. The same fish Tribe. They come here to complete a cycle of life.
There is the place where the kids used to swim. They called it their “hot tub.” It is a place where the glacier water pools in the sandbar. I sat many hours on a bench made of logs and watched them play, keeping a fire going to warm frozen toes and blue lips on smiling faces.
There is the tree that has one root and two bodies. Letters have been carved on it to read: J + C. There is the rabbit trail. There are the roses. There is the soft moss, covered with old cranberries. This is the place of you and me. This is the place of our family.
—Chantelle Pence is a writer and consultant from the upper Copper River region of Alaska. Her first book, Homestead Girl: Alaska Grown Prose will be published in 2016.