According to National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Lam, this summer broke the record for the coldest May 1 to July 29 period by being a half-degree colder than the summer of 1970. This is meteorologist speak for something we all know, this summer was the worst in 30 years for many of us! And we’re about to enter our rainiest month, October. Do you find yourself back in that mode of asking “And why do we live here?” Although the answer varies for each of us and many of us can’t fathom living anywhere else, I thought it might be helpful to re-cap some recent “Only in Juneau Moments” as we head into the horizontal rain season.
Only in Juneau do we get to listen to a world premier cellist interpret Bach through his Juneau experience within a glacier. Zuill Bailey’s encore performance of Bach’s Cello Suites at the Holy Trinity Church was truly a one of kind moment given the intimate setting for a cellist that appears with major orchestras around the world. However, our pleasure in his music leapt to a new level when Zuill explained how Bach’s Suites are so open to emotional interpretation, and how just hours before he had feared for his life as he was safely lowered by rope deep into a crevasse. We all felt how the intensity of the performance was magnified by his time in Juneau.
Only in Juneau do 30 local musicians put together an ad-hoc performance to welcome the new owner of Foodland IGA. Tyler Myers, president of the Myers Group, the new owner, said Juneau has given him a great welcome so far. “We’ve come into many communities before and we’ve never had anything like we are experiencing here,” Myers said.
Even with School Board developments we have moments where Juneau shines above all the budget rancor. A packed meeting about the construction delay at Gastineau Elementary School resulted in School Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich praising the staff and parents associated with Gastineau School. “I just can’t imagine, if we didn’t have the staff we have here, if we didn’t have the community we have here, what we’d be looking at,” said Gelbrich. “There’s one heroic tale after another of how much people have done to try and maintain some kind of normalcy.” Only in Juneau do we have heroic tales tied to normalcy.
Getting back to our rainy summer, let’s not overlook the upside …lower electric costs this fall. According to AEL&P, a household that uses 1,000 Kwh a month will now save $7.96 thanks to all the excess rain allowing AEL&P to sell surplus energy. Only in Juneau, does more rain amount to lower bills.
In addition to the ‘Only in Juneau’ stories that we all share as a community there are the ‘only’ stories that are personal. Only in Juneau do I have a neighbor who happily accepts our octopus and unexpectedly shares their fresh halibut. Only in Juneau would I have a weekend where one neighbor dropped off deer backstrap, only to be outdone by another neighbor sharing king crab. Only in Juneau would I have a girlfriend make nagoonberry pie with a chocolate covered crust. These moments all stand out as culinary treats but combine them with the generosity of friends and neighbors and they become unique treasures of why we continue to live here.
I try to hold onto all these ‘only in Juneau’ aspects as the pelting rain shortens the length of my dog walk to the minimal amount of time it takes my dogs to do their business and for me to bag and trash it. Sometimes it works, sometimes the rain and impending darkness is too much and I need something more to sustain my spirits. This is when I, like many residents turn to Alaska Airlines and the PFD Specials. Yes, I must admit that after this summer, my upcoming trip to Hawaii matters as much to my equilibrium as keenly knowing I live in a special place. And I know I’ll return to Juneau, readjusted and anxiously looking forward to the specialness of Juneau in the holiday season.
• Troll is a long-time Alaskan with more than 22 years of experience in fisheries, coastal policy and energy policy. She resides in Douglas.