Summer in Sitka

Written in response to: Set your story on a day when the sun never sets.... view prompt


Adventure Inspirational Mystery

Summer in Sitka—when the sun never sets. This was an event that Amelia found very fascinating. She and Dinah were on Amelia’s company trip in Alaska for two weeks this May. Their first week had been an unusual experience.

Her tickets had cost $786 for a round-trip experience. They’d flown out that morning at 12:55 PM (arriving nine hours later). The return trip was going to take off at 6:00 AM on Monday two weeks later, because there had been no flights on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. She’d eaten crackers, napped for a while and read “Word Nerd: More than 17,000 Facts About Words.” At first glance, one would think it’s like reading a dictionary, but Dr. Barbara Ann Kipfer really did find some intriguing facts. She learned that “drapetomania" refers to “an intense desire to run away from home” on page 174. She didn’t have a desire to run away from home, but sometimes she did wish that she could run away from work. This trip was a relieving escape for her. A sonnet she’d seen that morning described it perfectly.

Ever feel like escaping work?

You’re definitely not alone.

Wish your boss wasn’t such a jerk?

I know a similar someone.

I ne’er ran out of things to do…

Liked to reassign me her tasks—

So rare was a break for the loo.

’Twas forced to do what’er she asks.

When I said no—her answer was

That I still had to continue.

I just wished I could say, “No, twas

her own special grand venue…”

I don’t want to do all her work,

Although she still makes sure I do.

All too often she would go lurk,

Sees all occurs as it needs to.

It’s hard to work for her and still,

There’s no choice but to do her will.

No, their boss wasn’t a kind woman at all. She was slightly malicious, but no one could afford to quit. Not now while the USA was facing the aftereffects of COVID. She herself had only had a light case of it, she had felt super tired and groggy, and she’d run a fever. She had lost her taste for a time, but with much sleep she’d felt better. She’d caught the first round of COVID, before there was a vaccine and had just been advised to treat her symptoms. It was the best she’d been able to do.

She’d had to work from home—which was a new experience, but a pleasant one. She’d always wanted to try it out. She’d had time for extensive reading and writing, as well as plenty of time for her crafts. She enjoyed crocheting and sewing. She’d made a skirt for the first time the year before, and now she was working on a royal blue shirt. The scraps would be used for quilts. Since she was super cold natured, that was always nice in Indiana during the winter. She originally thought it would be cold in Sitka, but was slightly surprised to find that the temperature would be in the 60s or 70s and that Alaskans could actually grow some larger vegetables because of the 24-hours sunlight. It made total sense, but she’d never really stopped to think about it.

Amelia and Dinah get away the next afternoon—they went hiking at Old Sitka State Historic Park, about 14 minutes away from the city. There had been a mid morning meeting—because the flight had arrive so late, but Amelia and Dinah really wanted to stretch their legs. There were two trails they wanted to explore—one that wound along a river (the River View Trail, which was supposed to take 15 minutes) and the Totem Trail Loop, which showcased a set of totem poles that had had been created by the indigenous people in the area. That trail would take 30-45 minutes—both nice walks to stretch their legs—very scenic.

As they walked down the trail, they looked at the birds and spoke of how odd it would be for the sun—not—to set. She’d heard that some animals suffered health challenges and some humans did too. According to an article she’d read in a magazine, it could cause rickets, a form of tuberculosis and could lead to elderly people facing an increased risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, because of a lack of Vitamin D. That wasn’t going to be something Amelia and Dinah thought about while they were here. The wide open Alaskan countryside was brighter than the cloudiness of the city.

Well, the River View Trail did turn out to be very beautiful. The trails were wide and easy to traverse. “Do you think we have time to fit in the Totem Trail Loop too?” Dinah wanted to fit it in while they could. Both of them were feeling great. “Yes,” said Amelia. “That sounds good to me. It’ll be close, but we’ll be back just in time for the evening training session,” she continued. So, they departed on the Totem Trail Loop.

What they hadn’t expected to happen though, was for Amelia to take a wrong step on the rocks and roll her ankle. “Let me sit and rest it for a few minutes,” Amelia commented slowly, her tone full of pain. “I’ll take some pictures while we’re here,” Dinah commented with a smile. “At least Herbert’s not here. Hiking just doesn’t seem to be his thing.” After a few minutes, Amelia stood up, wincing. Her ankle had become swollen and she couldn’t stand without pain, much less walk.

She and Dinah wobbled along the trail. “We may arrive fashionably late for tonight’s meeting,” she cringed. Dinah frowned, knowing Amelia was right. After all, the presentation was going to be from Human Resources. The last time, she’d fallen asleep. The speaker had this super droll, monotone voice and it had been so easy to slip into slumber…

Last year, she’d dozed off during the reminder about how everyone needed to be super careful with keeping tallies. “Now, I’m going to show you this program,” Ronald had practically whispered into the microphone. “We’re going to go step by step. This can get very complicated. In this first column, Column A, go to the first cell in Row 1 and label it “ID.” Let’s do that… OK, go to Column B and label it “Product Name….” So it had gone for the entirety of the presentation—all with this super slow monotone voice. Her coworker Victoria had pinched her in order to keep her awake. She’d created tables so many times before that she thought she could actually do it in her sleep—but that didn’t excuse her dozing during the presentation.

That was last year though. Right now, Dinah wasn’t too sure someone would be looking for them—not for a while anyhow. After they proceeded slowly up the trial for 10 more minutes, Amelia strained, “Can we take a quick break?” Dinah helped her lean against a totem pole. She looked up and saw dark storm clouds on the horizon. This wouldn’t be good. Not only would they be continuing at a snail’s pace, but showers would be coming shortly.

Well, they were missed when the storm broke. The boss asked if anyone had seen them, and Herbert was the only one who had heard them commenting about checking out a couple of the trails. He was the lucky one who was sent out to ride along on a second ATV with the ranger to look for them. The boss knew Herbert was an experienced hiker and would be able to help find them if they had left the trail. He’d had some training and had been certified last year. It just wasn’t something Herbert talked much about. From his perspective, no one would really care anyways. A poem he’d heard recently titled, “Risky and Regretful,” came to mind. It was a new one, but he couldn’t recall the name of the poet…Her name was Patrina. No, Patina? It didn’t matter at the moment. It was relevant.

These times may be risky and yet—

’tis a softness in the power—

so thunderous and also wet.

So very drenched in the shower.

Raindrops twinkling down from the sky

Also bringing an element

of danger where the storm clouds lie—

until the thunderbolts relent.

After the storm there is a peace—

A sudden, silent stillness.

So quiet with such great release—

the mountains are filled with calmness.

There is still a solemn whisper—

yet an avalanche will soon break.

Only the wise will sense danger.

Many beginners it will take.

It’s important to be careful—

Or you may soon feel regretful.

He set out on the ATV with the ranger to go look for them. Hopefully they hadn’t strayed off the trail, he thought. They were smart ladies, but it just seemed like trying to take an alternative route back was something they might do. At least the sun wouldn’t set completely—this was the best time of year to get lost in Alaska—when it’s daytime 24 hours per day.It was still frustrating that he was chosen to be excused from the meeting to go find her though. This was a paved trail, and it should have been fairly easy. Dinah and Amelia were surefooted individuals and it’s not like the trails they had traversed were hidden ones. They wouldn’t have needed to cut the brush to create a path and they probably hadn’t taken the tools to do so anyways.

Hector’s main concern about Amelia was that he knew she had early onset arthritis. Although these were nice paved trails, he didn’t think she’d do well alone out there. If she’d tripped or fallen, movement would just be more painful. He didn’t feel super attached to Amelia, but he didn’t want her to suffer if she didn’t have to. Not that he’d ever let her know that if he could help it.

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, Herbert and the ranger found them. “What happened?” He was aggravated that they’d been so slow. Amelia patiently explained, “I rolled my ankle, and we stopped to rest. Turns out that now, whenever I put weight on it, it feels like pain is radiating through each of the nerves in my foot, from heel to toe. It’s terribly crippling. Maybe I pulled a muscle too,” Amelia replied. Dinah helped her get onto the ATV, but she was moving at a snail’s pace. The ranger commented, “When we get back to the station, I’ll get you some ice and you be sure to avoid putting any weight on it.” Amelia winced her head, nodding in agreement.

“Well, I bet this wasn’t something you planned,” Dinah giggled. “From now on, let’s visit places that are located in town. We’ll stop at the pharmacy, explore an outdoor adventure store and we could go check out the bear exhibit. It’s bigger than what we have back home.” Amelia shrugged and suggested, “Well..I don’t know if I really feel like shopping at an outdoors store right now. I wouldn’t be able to use the gear for a while…”

Amelia and Dinah are found and have a week left for another adventure—maybe in the shopping mall. “What do you think,” asked Dinah, “about stopping by the local bookstore and picking up a mystery or two? Then you can relax and rest until the next session…” This worked for Amelia. She was all for brushing up on a couple of recently published mystery novels. Perhaps a classic as well. It wasn’t like she would be going very far from the hotel for the next week…

March 25, 2022 15:53

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