Two Sides of Talkeetna

The year was approximately 2014. I had traveled to a small summertime vibes festival with a few other circus performers, to a small quarry near Talkeetna, in Alaska. There was juggling and silk performers. There was to be a fire walk.

The night was young, it was summer, and people were hyped about the upcoming event, an event that a specific facilitator had been brought in, to help us – about 40-50 people, walk on a bed of live coals.

The facilitators built a roaring bonfire and built up our excitement. They built up the night sky for us, a beautiful time that lasted even longer into the later night, which grew colder as time passed but must have been well past midnight. It was Alaska, and the midnight sun was just starting to come into season.

The coals burnt bright. It was time. We hooted and hollered. They coaxed and enlivened. They told us how it would go, then we went. All in a line, around and around on the bed of coals. Some once, some twice. I went once.

The coals were there to give a kiss to the soles of many. The coals were there to congratulate and singe. The coals were growing cooler.

Beauty aside, it was still a fun event. I had walked on fire.

The year was approximately 2004. My Dad was running a dog sled race. To Talkeetna. From Wasilla.

It was cold. Bereft of heat it was on the side of the heat spectrum that said “Yep, there is not much of it here this weekend.” My Mother and Sister and I loaded into the Dodge pickup and we took some hot chocolate, coffee, and food to the halfway point that was Talkeetna.

It was -10 degrees, Fahrenheit.

It was night, about 10 o’clock by the time my Dad pulled into the check point.

We had to get into and out of the pickup numerous times to balance keeping warm with keeping the dogs warm.

A few hours later he left. Rolled out, as they say. “Gee” and “Ha” were the commands he gave the dogs to indicate they should go left and right.

I do not remember his finishing standing, it was not first.

I was taught to run the race to run, to run the race and to run. I was bookish, reading more growing up but still going out on runs occasionally. Life was the same out on the night skies, the snow and the occasional northern lights. It was there and we were too. I read books about the things my folks and I did, and then did the things my folks did, only after a different variation. By analogy I lived, by experience I lived. I needed nothing other than the motivation to get out and start, the discipline and dedication to live and continue.

Later, Dances with Duality.

Fire and Cold. So, so, cold.