The Mexican quintet Metales M5 (they were great, "fabulous" even as my friend Nancy would say) managed to fly out today in all this wind and rain. The little airline office at the airport was like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie when they arrived, trying to squeeze in out of the storm with a tuba, French horn, trombone, about ten trumpets, and five big suitcases into a room jammed full of texting snowboarders plugged into iTunes and their big board bags and duffels strewn every which way. Just another April day in Haines full of shiny happy people. Seriously. Everybody who has been here this week is so thrilled with the weather and the town that they didn't care about today's hurricane a bit. One of the musicians said, "What you have here in Alaska is special. It's not like America. It's a different country, and much nicer. You are lucky. Very lucky."
I've been thinking about Juneau artist Rie Munoz today --she knew that too, about our part of the state from Prince of Wales Island to Lynn Canal and could have captured the airport scene better than any photographer. Our world is less colorful without her in it. I know she was 93 and lead a productive, joy-filled life, and she has certainly left us so much to smile about, but still, it was a shock somehow to hear she died of stroke yesterday. Like just about every home in Southeast it seems, I have a Rie picture on the wall. "Tossing Sticks"-- it could be Pearl and I on our beach, or my daughter at Sandy Beach in Juneau, or you-- or someone you know. That was Rie's genius. I had a little fantasy that my words and her pictures might go together in a book someday. We kind of matched, in terms of subject matter, and a look on the bright side world-view in our work. Ever since I met her, must be close to thirty years ago-- she was Mimi Gregg's friend and came up to Haines fairly often-- I remember thinking that when I grow up I want to dress more like Rie. The famous artist wore jeans, sneakers, and Icelandic sweaters even to Mimi's fancy soirees. Maybe it's time to start?