There are a few perks that come with leaving childhood. Not being denied entrance anywhere because of your age. Not needing an excuse to do anything you want. Being taken seriously at banks, open houses and other social appearance things. Not being humiliated at the “Must be this tall to go on ride” sign at theme parks, traveling alone without the assistance of airport staff keeping you in a small dim room during layovers, vegetables are an option, dessert for dinner and so on. But then there are some drawbacks … Well, mostly drawbacks. Paying rent and having a real job in order to pay bills with your name on them, the need for new material objects, time management, shaving, questioning self-worth, and of course, taxes.
Perhaps the biggest drawback that comes with getting older is pain. I am focusing on physical pain and injury. The other two, emotional and metaphysical routes, are much too serious for me to tackle in my 22 years on the planet. See, you don’t really get hurt when you’re a younger human. Well, you get hurt a lot but none of the damage lasts for very long. You fall down, get back up, catch the swing, get back on, make it go as high as you can, jump off, repeat. When I was a toddler my mom had several small stuffed animals that held a plastic ice cube that she housed in the freezer, called BooBoo Bunnies. When I had a crash landing, skinned my knee, stubbed my toe, fell out of a tree, the BooBoo Bunny would come to my rescue, cooling down the hot spot of that scrape or scratch. Realizing now, it was more of an emotional cure, but it was all I needed to simply carry on about my naturally curious business. Hashtag childhood perks.
My relationship with this subject is a multi-yearlong undiagnosed hip pain which causes compensation stress on other parts of my body. I’ve acquired a new understanding for others with physical pain or injuries that aren’t visible. At times it seems like nothing is wrong on the outside, but can truly be debilitating. Not an instance for #NoPainNoGain.
I think this is why almost everyone I know does some kind of drug or another.
I guess it’s OK to take a break. Juneau is a great town in that if you hang out in the city you aren’t really removed from nature. Downtown Juneau is tucked between Gastineau Channel (where you can see orcas and harbor seals and salmon) and mountains Juneau and Roberts. Beyond these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, which sends big winds ripping down into town. These winds are called the Taku winds and are cold and strong. They make people hardy. And they remind you that you’re in Alaska.
Since I wasn’t able to make it on any particularly magnificent trips in the past two weeks I am sharing some recent moments with the natural world surrounding our town. All of these photos were taken really close to or literally on the Juneau road system this fall. One can experience beautiful nature views without going very far from the comfort of their heated seats. I invite you to take in and treasure the natural beauty of our visually magical city. I know I do, even when I’m not venturing into the wilderness.
• California-born and Alaska-bred, Gabe Donohoe is an adventurer and photographer. He is a graduate of the University of Alaska Southeast Outdoors Studies Program. His photo archives can be seen on www.gabedonohoe.com. “Rainforest Photos” photo blog publishes every other Friday in the Empire’s Outdoors section.