Begin Facing the Wind


Aki squints into the low angle sunlight and muscles ahead in spite of the wind gusts that sweep over the frozen sand of the Sheep Creek delta. I lean into both wind and light until stopped by a forty-knot blast. When the sun reached the ice field peaks, it drove this cold air down the Sheep Creek valley to hammer us. When the gust ends, the little dog runs full speed into an Aki-sized forest of dead beach grass stalks.


Other dogs and their walkers pass us on their way down beach. They smile, and stroll, not feeling the bite of the wind because it is at their backs. When a father with two toddlers walks past, I am tempted to warn him about the cold his kids will face when they turn into the wind. But dad wears well-used winter gear and the kids are encased in down snowsuits. This is Alaska, between tourist seasons. Most know that it is best to begin each journey by facing into the wind.


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