There is hard, green, smooth ice on Chilkoot Lake. The only trouble is that it is way out, farther than you think, which is a challenge with children. There's a good mile, or maybe more, of bumpy white ice, it is skate-able, but makes your teeth chatter. Yesterday, on our way back, we visited Scott and Julie who had stopped with their little ones for a picnic before continuing toward the good ice. They had a sled, cocoa, snacks, a tarp, and even a bicycle for their second grader to ride.
The Polar Bear swim went off without a hitch. Leo the Logger did not wear his union suit into the surf this year like he did last year, he had on a red Speedo. And Michelle Stigen has now won the toughest woman award. She had two sets of twins, bar tends at the Elks, and now has braved the minus 20 windchills to jump into the frigid waves on New Year's Day. Tom's fire kept everyone from turning into pillars of ice, and Dr. Feldman kept it stoked while Fireman Al idled the ambulance up on the road.
Tom was here last night and he says he has about 15 wooden pallets to burn down on the beach to keep the annual Polar Bear swimmers warm. Which is a good thing since it is about 15 degrees and the north wind is shaking the house. The tide is coming in so at least they won't have to run far. As for me, I'll watch. I think the water off the Port Chilkoot dock is too cold in June. It starts at 11:00 and is over about 11:05.
My favorite Christmas movie is It's A Wonderful Life. I love it that George Bailey saves Bedford Falls from becoming Pottersville. I love that he gets a chance to see what life would have been like for his community if he hadn't done the things he did. Imagine Haines without the SEARHC clinic.
Halfway through church on Sunday we paused to bless the new coffee pot. Dwight led the procession to the kitchen carrying a cross, and Jan and Deacon Georgia and Nancy-- all in their vestments-- gathered close while we stood back a ways. Jan said a few words to God and the percolating pot, and then asked that the "liveliness of the bean" (as in coffee) "be a reminder of the liveliness of God's love for us." This kind of event at tiny St. Michael's is why I attend church there.It has also prompted one much more formal Episcopalian friend to dub us "St.
The timing of our snowshoe up to Camp Weasel for Tom and Jane's Boxing Day open house was perfect. My friend Linnus and I managed to be outside in just about all of the available daylight, join Tom and Jane for a cold beer and hot venison chili and make it back down to the road before it got too dark. The fresh snow (about two feet, it seemed) was bright, but heavy and wet, especially with the rain. Tom said he figured no one would come in this slop.
Ziggy came to church on Christmas Eve. Ziggy is an Australian cattle dog, with big ears and a rough red and gray coat. He is a year old, but appears older, partly because of the gray in his fur, but mostly because of his wise brown eyes. He watched and listened as we stood and sat and prayed and sang, as if he understood all of it. He checked out the creche near the altar, and much to his master Darren's relief he did not lift a leg, or chew one of the stuffed animals our congregation warms up the white porcelain nativity tableau with, although he was very interested in a plush fox.
There's a winter storming today, for weather that poses an "imminent threat to life and property" according to the weather service. Which is a bit melodramatic, to say the least. Eight inches of snow is not a hazard, it is a blessing. Yesterday I went for a walk with Annie and Paul up behind their house and the Salvation Army. The ground was frozen and mostly bare. We wore crampons and carried snowshoe poles. It was cold, about 14 degrees, but we quickly warmed up climbing the very steep wooded and rocky slope. The ground under the trees was hard and mostly bare with a frosting of white.
JJ made us waffles this morning, and they were so good I thought I'd share her recipe. Plus, it is crazy around here. My daughter Sarah and her husband Brian are in Juneau waiting for the baby. They took the ferry down yesterday. (There's no hospital in Haines.) Brian says if she's born on Christmas Day her middle name will be Holiday. I think he's joking. (He also says if she's born on New Year's it will be Champagne.) Her due date is January 5. My son woke us all up playing the guitar again.