Liquid Sunshine

A few years back, when I spent a few off-and-on years on Kodiak Island, and when my love for craft beer was still young, I remember a particularly satisfying brew from the Kodiak Brewing Company, called Liquid Sunshine — and truly, the sun-god as my witness, it was the closest thing I can imagine to tasting sunshine, at least in the form of a beer. A nice sweet piece of citrus fruit has the effect, for me, of tasting the sunshine, particularly a good, golden mango, where there’s a moment when there’s this sweet sting on the tongue, like a slap from the sun.

(But, well, I suppose that it’s possible that I’m just spacing the story here, over-romancing the past, and it’s possible that I drank Liquid Sunshine not at the Kodiak Island Brewery but at some other Alaskan town, like in Haines, at the Brewery there, because after two off-and-on years on Kodiak Island, I spent two off-and-on years in southeast Alaska. But, okay, a quick Google search reveals that it was Kodiak Island Brewery, because they still have the beer, Liquid Sunshine, described on the site as Pale, hoppy “Steam” or “California Common” style beer.  5% abv. This is interesting to me just now, because I remember the alcohol content as being higher, the effect as being far more potent, but then again I’ve always been a light-weight when it comes to handling my liquor, the fact of which, though, I’m quite happy about, since it has saved me much money over the years.)

Liquid sunshine is a term I didn’t hear until I came to Alaska, and fittingly, to Kodiak, a coastal town with, like, lots of rain. Sometimes it rains and rains and rains, and so much so that you begin to contemplate its various forms. Like “liquid sunshine,” which is when it’s sunny outside but still raining — raining, inexplicably raining. It’s something of a baffling irony of mother nature, a bitter irony, perhaps, after weeks and weeks of rain, when you think, my god, the sun can’t even shine without the sky bleeding more bloody rain — but actually I’m quite keen on the experience — the experience of liquid sunshine that is — mostly I think that I enjoy it because it’s just really weird, a weird natural phenomenon. It’s weird but in a weirdly satisfying way, feeling that combination of beachy warm rays of sunshine while the rain drops cool water on your skin.

A few days ago, I felt that weird feeling again. It’s been a really fucking rainy summer here in the Wrangell Mountains, an area normally hot and dry and dusty, the kind of rolling-tumble-weed type frontier town vibe that make give our old west town a feeling that is even more westernly and frontier-like.

As I was finishing my daily walk, the rain came down slow at first, plump and plopping. They were big plumps, impressive plumps, and they managed to grow in size, becoming impossibly plump and eventually coming down faster and harder until these same impossible plumps were practically pummeling me, all the while the sunshine still smiling, still shining.

When the drops first fell, they were so large that I thought it was hail, frankly, I felt certain of it. Hail, or possibly even snow. Which prompted an interesting question to contemplate as I concluded my walk for the day: if liquid sunshine is rain, then what would you call it if it were hail or snow? Would it be, like, icy sunshine? Or snow cone sunshine? Or maybe 7-Eleven Slurpee Sunshine?

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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