The sun glistens off the ocean in Kachemak Bay. Behind it, rugged peaks poke into the clouds, already snow capped with 'termination dust', the white powder that signifies an end to summer.
The chilly, brisk air invigorates my walk. All around me the hills and ridges are ablaze with gold and green. Fall has come to Alaska.
The tourists are gone, shops are closing up, school is back in session, and the residents of Homer are settling into their winter routine, which is on it's way.
Already there are reports of snow in Fairbanks, and blizzards on the North Slope - a place where the sun won't rise for four months out of the year.
We like our life here in Alaska. We feel more like locals than tourists now.
I love the small town feel- seeing friends at Save-U-More, running into them at the library, listening to local legends like 'Hobo Jim' as he sings stories of the early homesteaders who settled this place, and life in the 'Last Frontier'.
We're constantly learning more about the local lore of this 'Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea.'
There's plenty of great food to be found in Homer, much of it available with organic, vegetarian or vegan options.
There's Land's End and the Happy Face on The Spit.
Homer's a place that's unpretentious. It's a place where it's okay to wear your rubber boots, or your snow boots, with a dress, (and with anything else for that matter, since that's almost all you'll wear here.)
It's a place where people may live in Yurts, off the grid, without running water, and where some people still use an outhouse. And that's okay.
It's a place where you haul your own garbage to the dump, and where you might be surprised by a black bear digging through yours.
No one cares what kind of car you drive, or how much money you make. It's a place that people live because they really want to live here, because they love the lifestyle.
They don't move here because of a good paying job (unless it's as a fisherman). They move here because they love to catch fresh salmon and halibut, hunt for moose and bear, and enjoy the great outdoors and spectacular views.
It's a place with a close knit community.
People care about each other here, and make their living by offering the talents they have to others- either for money or trade.
Whether it's teaching a class on art, dance or cooking; supplying services as a midwife or chiropractor; renting cars; offering sailboat charters; preparing great food, or providing a good time - everyone has something, or a list of things, they can contribute in Homer.
My own kids have enrolled in ballet and gymnastics through a community program. We spend our days home schooling and caring for our new baby, who's middle name-Sterling- is clearly Alaskan.
Halloween is here. I paint the kids faces, we attend a community Halloween carnival, and then watch a movie at a friend's.
But that night tragedy strikes. We're t-boned by another car, one block from our house.
Our van is totaled, my oldest son is bleeding, my 3 year old daughter lying on the grass outside- she was thrown from the vehicle.
The moment is surreal- I'm afraid, confused, looking for help, praying to God. It's as if it was a dream.
We spend the night in the hospital, only two blocks up the street. The staff are wonderful, competent and caring- how grateful I am for modern medicine, and for the skilled staff in Homer.
Our family is there to support us. An outpouring of love and concern comes from friends and neighbors the following day- what a wonderful community.
My son receives stitches and staples in his head. My daughter has broken her femur. She transported by helicopter to Soldotna, Alaska and is put in a body cast for six weeks. The rest of us are miraculously okay.
Life goes on. The snow comes. We sled, snowboard, spend time with friends and family and keep learning about the world and about Homer.
Now it's Thanksgiving, and I have so much to be grateful for: my life, a new and sweet little baby, my safe and healthy husband and children, the support and love of family, the kindness and caring of friends.
I'm so grateful to be in Homer, Alaska. It's an amazing place to visit, and a great place to live.
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