One of my older daughter’s first words was “spider.” She would squeal “sib-oh” and point when we spotted the gray-black velvet bodies scuttling among the stalks of dead wildflowers as we made short loops across the wild meadow near our house the spring after she turned one.
Hummocks of old fern roots rose up to her chest, so I held her hand as we wandered into that nubby place that would become a riot of green in a matter of weeks. I’ve seen black bear in that meadow, moose cows with new calves, a coyote once, snowshoe hare, and eagles and falcons overhead. But that April, we were hunting for wolf spiders before fiddleheads and fireweed shoots sprinted towards Alaska’s tireless spring sun.
Our home state is massive: more than 300 million acres of public lands, 33,000 miles of coastline, and larger still than Texas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico mashed together.