Loving February? Who Knew?

I should have known the weekend would turn out well even if the flu won't let go, when Friday morning began with a book and a chocolate bar from my Valentine, and then at  noon there was a note on the bookstore door that said, "Closed 12-12:30 for a wedding! (Not mine, silly.)" No doubt long-married  owner Liz Heywood had to run over to the magistrate to witness the interim borough clerk and her sweetheart exchange vows. That night all the snow (must have been two feet)  didn't keep the former clerk and current interim manager (there's been some instability this winter, to say the least)  from donning a spaghetti-strapped black evening gown and singing jazzy love songs with a combo from Juneau in Harriett Hall at the Fairgrounds (all spiffed up too, with white lights and red and white tablecloths) for the Southeast Alaska Independent Living fundraiser. Sierra Jimenez and her crew did a wonderful job-- and what a great idea asking local artists to customize plywood hearts for a silent auction to help folks with disabilities get the services they need to remain at home in Haines? They were so beautiful and varied. Joanie made a padded footstool out of hers, and Sharon's was a red glass mosaic. I asked Sierra's husband, Carlos, if he'd helped display them and he sighed, "No." He had worked for 12 hours on Friday. He is the borough facilities and maintenance director and there's a lot to maintain right now. The pipe-freezing temps followed by all this heavy wet snow have kept him busy. He'd had a rough day capping off a very long few weeks. He said he'd been yelled at by people who you'd never expect would scream like that.  Blame it on the calendar. No one is happy in February. And yet. People did dance and visit at the fundraiser, and Saturday the Presbyterian ladies held their annual Valentine Tea, the local quilters filled the Senior Center for their annual retreat, the library carpets got cleaned, the boys basketball team beat Craig by one point in overtime, the home team men from Klukwan won the Dick Hotch Tournament, and Stuart DeWitt was the MVP and Most Inspirational Player, and he's had a harder winter than Carlos. The snow did quit and Sunday dawned perfectly frosted. Ski tracks were set at Chilkoot and Alaskan civil rights hero Elizabeth Peratrovich Day was celebrated at the ANB Hall. Finally, last night the Chilkat Center lobby filled up for the art's council's Northern Light Showcase and the mood began bright  (even though Carlos could only half-repair the plumbing in time so the men had to use the upstairs restroom) and grew brighter with each performance. By the time Jeff sang about Love and Gratitude we were all feeling it--  and then Pizza Joe, who is in a pretty cold place himself after being let go by the borough as the assistant harbor master (he's appealing) and who had a black eye from the basketball tournament, took the stage. I was a little worried. His jokes could have gone either way, you know? Who would blame him? But then Joe delivered his best stand-up routine ever, poking fun at all of our ridiculous expectations and often childish  complaints about what is so obviously wrong with our town and everyone in it (another February tradition) with a  "Blame it on Chilkat Valley News editor Tom Morphet"  monolog that made everyone laugh out loud.  Finally, the Hi-De-Hos, featuring Doc Feldman on the harmonica, a gentle mental health counselor on harmony vocals, and Liz's husband Tom on guitar, sang us home with a set of sweet old-timey tunes that Tom had recently serenaded his mother with for her 98th birthday. Honestly, what's not to love about all that?

Here's the heart we won at the SAIL auction-- it's by Liz and Tom's daughter Tia, and in the faded distance of that summer view she wrote a line from Saint-Exupery, which is as good advice for small-towns as it is for couples:  "Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."

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