At the community picnic celebrating our town's centennial, I saw John Schnabel (he celebrated 90 years himself earlier this year.) He looked well and was very happy to be there. A little while later, over salads and hamburgers, his daughter Debra told me that her father had seen another old friend (and one of his pioneer contemporaries) among the hundreds of folks at the party on the lawn of the old school on Main Street and said, "Harriet, I've known you since you were 17 and I've always wanted to kiss you, and now that I'm 90 I think I will." And she beamed, and he did.
Yesterday I was reading Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast, a family story about when his 38 year old daughter died suddenly of a weird undetected heart defect, and how he and his wife moved in with her husband to help care for her three young children. It's spare and unsentimental, but a beautiful little book. In one scene, he visits his granddaughter's second grade class, where he volunteers to teach writing, and while talking about his non-fiction book Children of War, he observes that it is too bad children have no power.
Chip's mother, Grandma Jo, is here, and she has been watching Fox News. (We have all been following the story of Ted Stevens' fatal crash. ) Grandma Jo and I love each other, so don't talk politics much. Okay, not at all. But she was happy that I wrote this piece in the Washington Post about Ted Stevens two years ago. Today, am too. ( My Democrat friends were kind of ticked.)
I love August. I love the lushness of it, and knowing that it is the last hurrah before winter makes it even sweeter. I love the overgrown bushes, the fish and the berries, and the flowers spilling out of the crowded window boxes. I love the bolting chard in the garden, the tangle of sweet peas and nasturtiums, the seed-headed fireweed, and bright raspberries and cherries bursting on canes and trees. I even love the thigh-high weeds and beach grasses. The abundance of it is astounding. I feel rich just looking at the counter lined with jars of salmon.
Yesterday morning I looked out the window and saw water spurting and my son and husband shoveling frantically. "What's that?" I hollered. "Turn off the washing machine," my husband said, "now!." A few minutes later when I got outside and checked the damage for myself and asked how long the little sewer creek had spilled across the lawn, my husband said, "it was just gray water." My son said, "Mom, sometimes the planet has to suffer." Seriously, it was only a minute, not enough to make mud, and it went toward to the driveway not the beach.
Well, of one moose and one man on a bicycle-- my husband. We were out for our morning ride along the Haines road next to the Chilkat River. There was fog, and no real wind to speak of. There had been a brown bear in the neighborhood the night before, and rumors of more on Cemetery Hill, so I was a little more aware than usual at 5:30 or so in the morning, and paying attention to bear poop on the road at 2-mile, and 4-mile, and 6-mile. You get the idea. Then we see a big brown thing on the side of the road at about 9.5-mile.
Yes, Papa Bob swam the Hudson River, and is alive to tell about it. (Although he hasn't told me.) My sister Kathleen emailed that he made it, even with his wet suit on backwards and goggles filled with river water. That's all I know. In Haines, it was another gorgeous day and hard to stay inside knowing that the fireweed are already seed, and winter is coming sooner, rather than later. Half the town must have been napping in the sun this evening, recovering from a terrific fair.
It is a good thing I got to work in the hospice booth, since I don't have a swirly skirt, a hoola- hoop, or sparkles in my hair. "You could," JJ said, showing me hers. She suggested silver strands of tinsel for my graying hair. Still, even on my bad knee I managed to dance to a bouncy blue grass band last night. Although, nearby in the shuffling, clapping crowd my friend Tom announced that bands without drums should be banned after 9:00pm. They are too hard to dance to. It didn't look to me like anybody noticed. I don't think you could have fit anyone else on the dance floor.
Well, it was a busy morning babysitting Caroline, cleaning up after the fish canning, and baking for the hospice fair booth. I had an appointment at the clinic too, with Dr. Marnie Hartman. (She put down a mat for the baby to play on.) Unfortunately, I'm a hobbling mess. An old cartilage tear from my accident has gotten worse and my knee looks like a lumpy, partially deflated soccer ball. (So much for all those chores. I guess I over did it. Hauling the old wood scrap pile down to the beach at low tide and burning it all was probably the knee breaker.
So, by now you probably know that I will start a new column in Woman's Day magazine in November, pretty much just like the old one that ran for ten years or so in the Anchorage Daily News (and similar in style to the Morning Edition and Christian Science Monitor essays, and my newer column in the Alaska Dispatch which I won't be doing now, at least until I get my feet on the ground with Woman's Day.