Deeply Sensible

 I'm still catching up on chores and sleep from London, plus this is always a frantic time, as every nice day now counts with school about to start, and that fall feeling of winter so close. Last week's cold rain felt like summer was over, but then the sun came back just in time for Adam and Amelia's wedding. (It was wonderful, down at the beach at Paradise Cove, and then we danced all night to Kris and Lindy at the Tribal House. At one point we looked around at all our old friends still sort of rocking out and Chip said, "It's just like it was 30 years ago in here," and it was, except there is a new generation making the floor bounce.)  I managed to smoke and can five cases of salmon in the last four days. With all the bears in the neighborhood (and all over town, it seems) I was more than a little worried to leave a smoker full of fish puffing away in the yard overnight, but it was doing so well I hated to cut the smoke part short. We have had no bear problems, even though there are tracks almost daily on the beach right in front of the house and rumors of break-ins abound. We keep everything clean and there is an electric fence around the chicken coop. Still, I knew salmon in the smoker was a risk, so I left the light and radio on in the nearby greenhouse (thank goodness KHNS is 24 hours now) and turned on both porch lights. Everything was fine. Which may have had more to do with CP's annual birthday party on Pyramid Island than my radio. There were boats going back and forth. Voices carried clearly on the night river. The midnight fireworks show lasted longer than the 4th of July, and thanks to the darkness was more impressive. The concussions from the mortars no doubt sent every bear in the Chilkat Valley running for cover. Now that the fish is done, I need to finish Hilma White's obituary. (She died last week a month shy of 99.) My editor Tom and I already had a spirited disagreement about her cause of death. I said old age, and he said she must of died of something, that old age isn't a diagnosis. I knew her fairly well near the end. She wasn't sick, she was just worn out. I told Tom then just say her heart stopped, and he said every dead person's heart has stopped. Heart failure is an effect of death, even when it is not the cause. I argued that people don't live forever anymore than my garden does or salmon do --or even his old truck-- there is a natural life span to everything, including us. (He was schooled by nuns, surely he knows the burial psalms?) He said, " prove it." I could see I wasn't going to get anywhere, and he is my friend, so I dropped it. Anyway, we'll see what he decides to say she died of in the obituary. Arlene Jackson did not get to die of old age, she had a stroke and thus very suddenly went from being a fit active senior, to gone. Which means her home is still full of her things, and so the family is having a sale all week from noon to six at Chilkat Trail, just off Mud Bay Road past Dr. Feldman's office. My neighbor Betty called to remind me to tell the newlyweds next door. "Arlene had nothing but the best, and she kept everything immaculate," Betty said. This week, no one would say that of my house. I figure I'll tidy up when the weather turns. This could be the last day of sunshine. I hope it isn't, but it is possible. On yesterday's walk to town, another neighbor  told me that a bear had been killed the night before, in defense of life and property, somewhere on our road. She had three yearling cubs, he said, so the trooper was looking for them now. We didn't speculate if they too would be destroyed or if perhaps (doubtfully) relocated. I was glad my salmon hadn't played a part in their demise. Still, that news, as well as writing all these obituaries, keeps me anyway, as the burial prayer says-- "deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of life."

 

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