Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 5:11 PM on Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why I love Homer: Let me count the ways

In this season of giving, I want to take the time to say thank you to all the gifts I have received over the years — from family, friends and even strangers, and sometimes from the most unexpected places. Even adversity can be a gift, as it challenges us to grow and become better in the long run. But the biggest gift of all has been the opportunity to live in one of the greatest little towns on earth: Homer, Alaska.

Yes, it's easy to focus on all that is wrong with the world — and there is plenty of it, too. Wars, disasters, violence, poverty, abuse, environmental degradation; it's easy to find fault and to get angry about so many things. Sometimes one feels so discouraged and powerless that it's easy to forget to count one's blessings.

So tonight as I was driving back home from my Homer errands to my little farm out on East End Road, I began to reflect on all the wonderful things about this community that make it so special — and for which I am so thankful.

Some of these things we just take for granted — like the friendly smile of the store clerk who has known you for years and asks how are you doing lately.

And then there are those things one would normally find annoying, but on second thought are blessings in disguise — like standing in line at the post office. OK, I should have planned on more time since it's the holidays and everyone is there mailing packages. But why be in a hurry? It's a great chance to visit with folks I haven°òt seen in a year or to overhear the latest town gossip or say "hi" to an old friend just back from fishing. Unless forced to, would I ever stand still this long to chat with folks during my busy day? In this era of Facebook, how nice to greet people face to face. Besides, we are so lucky to still even have a post office — including the darling little hole-in-the-wall Fritz Creek Post Office, with its country store and deli and gas pump and electric spool tables where neighbors congregate to read the paper and check the Internet and talk politics (I automatically pull in there whether I need to or not).

Then there°òs the hospital. We are so fortunate to have such a great community hospital — with such dedicated doctors and nurses and state-of-the-art medical facilities. Somehow it makes me feel secure. I love having the same doctor for more than 30 years. Someone who knew my dad and was there when he died, who knows my husband, my kids, my peculiar owies and aches and worries. How many places does that happen?

Besides the obviously wonderful things about our town — like the many fabulous espresso shops, gourmet restaurants, art galleries, artists, old-time movie theater, the Pratt Museum, the library, the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, to name just a few — I°òd just like to mention some of the other things that make me feel warm and fuzzy about Homer.

For instance, the public water fountain at Safeway and those laundromats with hot showers, all providing a vital service to the backwoods folks without running water. While the laundry is going around and around at the Washboard, you can check your Internet, get an espresso, and visit with your other waterless neighbors.

The beautiful Seafarer°òs Memorial gives me goosebumps, since I knew many of those who died at sea. It looks solemn and beautiful out there on the windswept Spit, especially at sunset. Then I think of all the others who helped build this community, the old timers and pioneers, some who led tough lives. They all gave of themselves to make Homer what it is today.

I love that Homer has a "sidewalk" running the length of the Spit for folks and families to run, walk, bike and take their dogs out on and where all ages can enjoy the outdoors and the breathtaking views.

It's so great that we have a wildlife viewing station at the end of Beluga Lake across from our cool little airport, and muddy Beluga Slough — our very own Central Park — where eagles, ducks, cranes and geese can easily be seen and enjoyed.

I like the lookout atop Baycrest, so nicely landscaped. I pull out there each time I drive back from up the road and stop just to take it all in- — the volcanoes, the glaciers, the blue white-capped bay with the fishing boats coming and going — and I thank my lucky stars I live in such a spectacular and friendly place.

The ferry Tustumena is one of my loves: When it pulls into the dock and blows its horn, I am reminded of the first time it came into town, back in the 60s. I traveled back and forth to the canneries in Kodiak and Seldovia on the Trusty Tusty a lot in those days. I'm glad it's still around, a part of our history and our connection to other communities. Some things should be kept going — it's not always about the money, is it?

Well, these are but a few of the many things that I love about Homer. I have barely touched the surface. There is so much more to be thankful for.

Maybe it's because I was raised here, have roots, friends, family, history and special memories. Maybe it's because Homer is just a unique place on the planet.

But whenever the winter gets too long and cold and dark, and I feel I'm living at the end of the world and am overwhelmed and dream of other places (like Hawaii, my other favorite place) I stop and remind myself why — when I do travel away — I always can't wait to come back home again.

Mossy Kilcher is a lifelong Homer resident.