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Friday, 24 February 2012

Sunshine Chimera

By Jeanne Waite Follett of Gullible's Travels

I stand in the afternoon sunshine, eyes closed, jacket unzipped, no hat or gloves. In my heart there dances a chimera.

With the rays of the sun warming my face, I am almost beguiled into believing that winter is soon over, almost a season well on the way to being chased out of town by the lengthening daylight and the rising temperatures of spring.

Reality clamors for attention in the more sensible part of my brain but I ignore it until the loud click of the gas nozzle indicates my truck is full. That rude interruption into my fantasy brings me back to the Costco gas station in Anchorage, the reality of $3.74 a gallon gasoline and that the day is February 7 in Alaska.

February, mind you. In Alaska, I repeat.

I replace the nozzle and the gas cap and look around the Costco parking lot. Everywhere I look Alaskans are acting like it’s spring. No one wears hats or gloves. Jackets and coats are unzipped. Chimeras can’t be seen but I’m guessing there are many hanging out in this snow covered lot today, all working their way into receptive and willing hearts and minds.

The temperature? In the high 20s.

We aren’t out of this yet, I remind myself as I pull the receipt out of the slot and look at the total.

Seven more weeks in which the temperature can easily slide way below zero, seven more weeks in which several feet of snow can fall, seven more weeks of winter. April?

April’s a crap shoot.

One never knows what April can bring. It can be gentle; it can be ferocious. Or, as Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times.” That’s April. Schizophrenia in nature.

The only sure thing about April is that in 30 days it will be May,and May is much more reliable.

The drive into Anchorage was reality itself. In the space of five miles along Turnagain Arm, there is one vehicle sideways in a snow bank and holes where five others had been. Black ice coats the asphalt, invisible ice formed by sudden warm temperatures after weeks of below zero cold. I switch to four-wheel drive for better steering and braking.

The chimera refuses to leave. It dances over my shoulder like a sun dog as I drive through Anchorage to the far side of town. All the errands on my long list are crossed off, all but the most important: Visiting a housebound friend and delivering groceries and a prescription to her.

She greets me at the door with a hug and I watch her walk back into her condo living room. She walks better than she has in more than a year.

Four weeks after hip replacement surgery, four weeks after banishing horrendous pain from her body and she walks with confidence. Her voice is free of the pain, her face is free of the pain, her body is free of the pain.

She is a new person and one with a bright future. I leave the sunshine chimera with her, where it belongs, and drive home to Moose Pass.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post



Are you enjoying the respite from your usual bitterly cold and snowy weather in Alaska?

I am in Florida and the weather here is a bit cooler than it usually is at this time of year.

But, our gasoline prices are about the same. We are bordering on $4.00 a gallon now.

I'm sure your friend with the hip replacement was glad to see you and happy you were able to get through to help her. You may have had trouble getting through in a regular February Alaskan Winter.

I hate to admit this but even after looking it up on Wikipedia, I still don't really know what a Chimera is. What is it?

Jeanne: Your story left me feeling so good; not only about the weather which thankfully is warmer in Seattle, but also about leaving your Chimera with one less fortunate. What a wonderful friend you must be.

What a delightful story Jeanne.

Great story. You took me right there with you. And what colorful place-names there too, reminiscent of Jack London tales, really nice work pulled me right out of my skull!

Nancy, I always turn first to Merriam-Webster as in http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chimera
They also will speak the word out loud for me -- just click the little speaker icon.

Thank you, Steve. I will do that.


This is from your recommended site: Merriam-Webster. They even give Roget a run for the money...

Synonyms: fantasy, conceit, daydream, delusion, dream, fancy, figment, hallucination, illusion, nonentity, phantasm (also fantasm), pipe dream, unreality, vision.

"Chimera" has several meanings including "an imaginary monster" and a "frightful or foolish fantasy."

Obviously, I had "foolish fantasy" in mind when I wrote this. Thanks for all your remarks, friends.

BTW, the friend appreciated her springtime chimera.

Thanks, Jeanne, for letting us know exactly what you meant.Foolish Fantasy sounds wonderful to me.

In any case, I always enjoy your stories and hope to read many more in the future.

Oh Jeanne, you made me homesick for Anchorage. It's been too long since I've been gone. But I know what you mean, because here in MN, when it gets sunny and 20, I've seen guys jogging shirtless in shorts. We northerners are made of hearty stuff!

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