The good thing about having forty people over for dinner is that it makes you clean the house, and after all winter mine could use it. I mean, it looked okay, but a white glove test would not be good (it still won't) thanks to the wood stove, and to the glacier dust blowing down the Chilkat River valley from this windy, dry cold spell. There was only 5 feet of snow at the measure stick high on Mt. Ripinsky last time we checked, and I've seen 14 feet this time of year. The annual Hospice of Haines volunteer dinner was Sunday, at my house, but the board all cooked- Beth brought king salmon (thanks to her husband Greg and the F/V Rustler) and the rest of us made salads, vegetables, and moose meatloaf. Actually, it was pig-deer-moose meatloaf, sort of a hunter's version of that old New York veal-pork-beef mixture for meatballs. (Chip and the guys did get two wild pigs (and terrible poison oak) on their trip to California.) But the party wasn't about food. It was about thanking people doing good work for the community, and about those people laughing, talking, and having a fine time with neighbors they may not dine with otherwise, but who share a fundamental human experience with them. I can't explain it, but it feels good to be in the room with this crowd. There is an energy that is so hopeful and positive. If you ask any of the Hospice of Haines volunteers they will tell you that they are given more than they give by caring for the (mostly) elderly people they spend a few hours a week with, or the folks that are making that slow journey onto the other side. It really is true, that in giving we receive. It also really is true that there is something eternal about life, and that something has to to do with human beings, and the way we care for each other. (Maybe that's why everyone is smiling.) If you'd like to become a Hospice of Haines volunteer, watch for news about the annual volunteer training in April.