On Sunday, Lee and I set out to hike one of the “classic” hikes of Fairbanks – Angel Rocks. It is actually about an hour outside of Fairbanks, up Chena Hot Springs Rd. It was a perfect day for a hike, cool and sunny. We set off for the 3.5 mile hike walking through the birch forest trail that followed the Chena river. It smelled like the end of fall, when the leaves paper the ground and the air smells crisp and musty. It reminded me of playing in the woods behind my daycare provider, Dottie’s, house, raking leaves into trails, turning the woods into our play house. (We even had an elevator!). The end of fall is a funny feeling, a strange combination of nostalgia and melancholy. I thought about that feeling at the beginning of our hike. It isn’t a sad feeling, more of an in touch with the changing of the seasons feeling. It felt good to smell the same happy smells of my childhood.
As we turned away from the river and began to climb out of the forest, the “angel” rocks came into view. And that is when the fun began! Lee and I both love big rocks. He loves them because he loves to climb. I love them because they present an endless array of faces – both animal and human. I’ve been told that people who see animals and faces in things have a condition called Pareidolia. But Pareidolia is defined not just at seeing these aparitions, but as finding meaning in these sightings. I see faces and animals everywhere. They are in rocks and our stucko walls and in the grain of wood. I see them, yes. But they are not meaningful to me. I don’t believe the spirit of a goat inhabits the wood whose grain looks like a goat. I just see said goat. So I’m not sure that what I experience is Pareidolia. Either way, I challenge you. Do you see what I see?