The Chilkat River isn't so much talking this morning as it is howling-- my face has a fine layer of silty grit thanks to the dust storm blowing down from Klukwan. I would have taken a picture, but my mittens are too clunky and I couldn't take them off without flash-freezing my fingers which I need in order to type. (Two of them, at least.) Last night's Rivertalk story telling evening in the Chilkat Center was so moving and whacky in a weird and wonderful Haines way that it made my February. Tim Huber's talk about his stroke alone was so powerful that I wasn't the only one brought to tears, and Bill's story that took us on a trek from Tenakee to Katmandu with a big rock was a marvel of streaming consciousness that held together in the end, and John meeting the four deaf, dumb, German women tourists whose car had broken down just outside of Death Valley in 100 degree heat and communicating with them by scratching in the dirt with sticks was, as John said "epic" in its own right -- and the others too-- Tresham in that hut on Wreck Bay living the hippie life back in the day, and sweet southern Michelle stuck in International Falls at the Canadian border because she had a pistol in her minivan, and Bruce's pep talk on resilience that took my breath away-- his house burned down twice-- when he was a child and and as an adult, both times on his birthday no less, his father was murdered, he has cancer that comes and goes, and he loves Haines, because he said that when his place, a heliski inn called The Funny Farm at Mosquito Lake burned and he told the paper he needed socks and underwear, that the next day he received enough to not have to do laundry for months.
Just seeing so many people in one place would have been uplifting enough for me. I was beginning to think everyone is on vacation or closed for the winter. Also, how appropriate that the theater was once a cannery at Pyramid Harbor where the Chilkat River meets the inlet? Between it's original purpose over 100 years ago and it's new life in town, think of the stories that building could tell? (Have you ever read Alice Hoffman's Blackbird House? It's a great book of linked short stories that are all from one house on Cape Cod over the course of some 200 years.)
Back to the river, there will be a meeting with an official from the Alaska DEC Monday at 6:00 in the Chilkat Center to answer questions surrounding the recent Tier 3 designation discussions in the news about the Chilkat River and water quality protection levels. There are home basketball games in the gym, the winter Olympics are tomorrow at 10 at the Fairgrounds, and at 7:00 tomorrow night there's a discussion about the local economy in the Chilkat Center. The library book club meets to discuss The Memory Keeper's Daughter at 3:00 on Sunday, and the pool is still closed. There are great ski trails up the valley at 25 mile Jim Stanford says, and Lynn Campbell told me last night at Rivertalk that George just groomed them. Hard to believe it was mild enough to bike this week...