Not Much Light, But Oh How Bright it Is
It's 22 degrees and clear, with 7 hours and change of daylight, although dusk begins at 2 when the sun dips behind the mountains. It's pushing 8 0'clock now and and shaping up to be the kind of blue,pink, and purple dawn that if it weren't all frosty I'd fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun and say thank you, thank you, thank you. There's not much light, but oh how bright it is.
It's been an inspirational few days. Beginning with a presentation by Wayne Price and the Chilkat Dancers at the Eagle Festival on Wednesday. They danced and sang with authority and joy- and then Wayne spoke of the traditional Tlingit designed dugout canoe he and the dancers had built and paddled to Juneau last summer. (100 plus miles in the sea.) Wayne, who is a master carver and highly regarded artist, said he basically chucked the gallery-art- design-world after a sweat lodge vision in which he was instructed to heal himself and others and ultimately his culture, -- from addiction, violence, and poverty-- and that building and paddling these canoes is a fine way to do that. (I wrote about his Sitka sobriety totem pole project in Garden and Dogs.) "There can be a lot of room on the water for people to heal, and there's a real hunger for it," Wayne said. After the canoe made it safely to Juneau on human power, Wayne said he felt good, very good. " There are few times when you know for certain you did something right, and this time I knew I had done that." He said he's going to keep on building boats, and plans to lead young people in the steaming and carving and paddling of more canoes. "My mission in life is to pass on what it means to make a dugout. When I hear the songs of my ancestors coming across the water, then my job will be done," he said.
(Another inspirational moment of the Eagle Festival is the release into the wild of two rehabilitated eagles this afternoon at 2:00 at 19 Mile.)
The Hospice of Haines board met Thursday morning and discussed the "Light the Night" remembrance walk. We do it every October, outside, and once again it was rainy and windy. This year we chose Lookout Park overlooking Portage Cove, where there is a gazebo at least for some cover, and we had a fire, and warm drinks, but the paper bags on which people write the names of loved ones who have died, and place a little LED "candle" in and set out in the dark, all disintegrated. "Why do we do it in October?" Someone asked. "It's dark." Was one reply. And we added the others-- that's the season of the year with All Souls Day, Jewish New Year, the Day of the Dead, when fish are spawning and die, leaves fall. Flowers fade. All that kind of cycle of life stuff. And in a fishing and tourist town, we all have some time to organize and attend-- We concluded that in spite of, or maybe because of the weather, it was moving and meaningful to the hardy people who braved the monsoon. "Face it, it's always going to rain, no matter when we schedule it," our director said. The real issue was the paper bags falling apart. Which could be a kind of a metaphor, when you think about it, although it was agreed watching the bags turn into soggy pulp was depressing. We concluded that next year we will use canning jars instead. (This is what I love about Hospice work. It is both realistic and hopeful.)