This tundra shrubbery, this red and goldness, this boldness, this metamorphosis, 800 miles through eastern Alaska and northwestern Canada, we journey to…
Splashes of gold and electric orange. Autumn is only momentary, but brilliant in the north.
And driving east on the Alcan where there is nothing but black spruce for hundreds of miles and then suddenly a sign at the top of a driveway in the middle of nowhere appears: “Best Chili in Tolsona.” And I believe it.
And I believe in everything. I believe in the potential for never-ending love, and even the possibility that as love grows old, it continues to accelerate in betterness. So much so that when we’re not newer than the forests that surround us, our happiness will grow exponentially to include spheres of community and planet, expanding outward into infinity. And that is what I wish for, for the beautiful couple about to embark upon nuptials, Jake and Macky.
And while the entirety of the western Yukon is engulfed in grayness, the Haines Highway brightens with every mile, so that by the time we arrive at the south end of the road and are greeted on the banks of the Chilkat by Stellar Jay, it is a glorious kind of sunny summer day.
The kind that could only get better by a double rainbow, which of course appears during the toasts made by the families of the bride and groom to be.
And surrounded by the oldest of hometown friends, we muse upon first love, upon the cyclical and symbolic nature of the world. We digress to conversations of homesteadiness: birch syrup collection methods and fish prices and with the bittersweet reminiscence of each salmon bled, we exchange feelings. Sadness and passion and worship for our fish and everything. We know each other well. We are all and will always be Alaskans.
And then it’s the big day. A bright, warm display of celestial perfection. Eighty degrees in Alaska in August. And everything changes. And who says this new climate is so bad?
We all do. But we enjoy this new weather too.
The groom wears a sealskin vest and the bride wears no shoes at all. And when she arrives at the trellis, she fist-pumps to the crowd. And the congregation is all of the most beautiful people in all of the world. In spirit and on the surface. And thank you, Jake and Macky. You are that which we orbit around.
And Lauren, the groom’s sister, expounds upon the concise topic of love in the universe before Jake and Macky profess their vows, which do not mention ‘til death do we part, but rather pledge curiosity and silliness, declare assistance and pursuance and a commitment to believe in magic.
And the party and the night and the life that follows is full of that magic. All of us wedding attendees can feel it, whether or not we’ve partook in the purple jar. The potluck is richer than any fest thrown out East End. The music is rousing and the sky is unceasingly vibrant. The guests are all celebrant and intoxicated on the love of Macky and Jake and then when darkness descends, a troupe of white-garmented goddesses dance with candles in their hands, surrounding the couple, like the very messengers of the heavens have descended to bless this union.
It’s so beautiful that I weep.
Celebrations continue long into the next day, where we eat Jake’s salmon glazed with birch syrup tapped from Homer trees and potatoes dug from Macky’s garden in Haines, mashed with morels harvested from coastal Alaskan forests. We tour their little love nest—South-facing windows for a wall, driftwood mobiles and crystals on the rough-hewn ledges and animal skins for seats. Jake lights a fire like an Alaskan man—with a flamethrower. And we all light Carly’s sparklers in celebration of love and the kinship we have with each other.
And then the rain begins again, announcing the time to drive back over the Haines Highway, where the first snow of the season caps the peaks and pockets of mist hang between forested hills. A white and blackness, a profoundness in simplicity.
And then it’s dark on the other side of the border and the aurora exists, however intangible, above. Like, just in case you didn’t already believe, the sky lights up with real magic to force submission to bliss: green ribbons dancing into existence, swirling into a redness of exploding icicles, engorged clitorises, galaxies, ghosts and strings, strumming a song that you see.
And back on the other side of night, in the daylight, the aspens and birch contrast with black spruce in their vibrancy of fall. Splashes of gold and electric orange. And it’s time for deep sighs, for happiness with what’s just begun, for joy for these two incredible people, for love for everyone, for all of us.