Being in tiny Tenakee Springs with Covid gives a new meaning to “isolate”—especially since I stayed in my friend Teresa’s place, which I love even more because there is no Internet and cell service. There is a landline, but there’s no long distance, which means local calls only or someone (like Chip) can call in.
I usually check messages at the library, but that involves walking or riding my bike all the way down the trail, and the trail is the main drag here—as in Tenakee Avenue, and lined with homes and public places like the old Shamrock bakery, the Bus Stop, the Post Office and Alaska Seaplanes, Snyder Mercantile, the Bath, the New Moon Café. The little shingled chapel of St. Francis is always open to stop in and count blessings or say a few words to God and listen for a response. (By this I don’t mean a phone call or text. It’s a feeling that lifts your heart a bit, the kind of presence that assures you everything will be okay. It is what it is, and all that.)
The Virus wasn’t too bad. A rough flu for a few days. I have never had it before, and thought I was special. Guess not. I had a sore throat, headache, body aches ( my finger joints even hurt), slept a lot and wasn’t very hungry. I made myself drink water and eat, as if I were in a nursing home. Or the hospital. I even had canned peaches for dessert. ( I was eating out of Teresa’s pantry…) Friends brought books and food, too. During the worst of it, I read two novels that I think are Young Adult, by Ruta Sepetys about Lithuanians exiled to Siberia by Stalin’s Russia during WW II. It was hard to feel sorry for myself as I rested in the sun and they suffered in a dirt hovel at 40 below, eating raw rotten potatoes, and one day made a feast from a dead owl someone found. It’s astounding how inhumane humans can be. And it continues. And yet– Ruta’s ancestors survived and she told a story of hope and courage.
I did spend a lot of time sitting on the deck above the trail, and the weather was beautiful, so that helped. I had a radio, and KCAW from Sitka kept me good company. I heard all of the Terry Gross series on rappers. It gave me an appreciation for the artists and art form that I hadn’t had before. The man painting the house next door and the old man across the trail kept me entertained with their conversations, which sometimes included me. The painter used to live in Chicago. When I asked how he got to Tenakee he said, “I was lucky.” We all saw the blue moon and commented on it, speaking across the trail and over the trees. “It was gone by 3 am” the man across the trail said from the recliner on his porch. “I was too,” I said. We all laughed. I learned that the secret to making good barbecued beef is slow cooking on low heat, and the rub. “You can’t be afraid of spices,” the painter told me. He learned to cook as a kid reading his mother’s Gourmet magazine.
By the fourth day, I was able to head away from town toward the boat harbor to text home and check emails on the harbor internet, and get some work done on my cabin-in-progress down on East Tenakee Avenue.
Yes, I am lucky—on so many fronts– Not the least of which was to be in Tenakee a few extra days until I tested negative, so I could safely ride ferry home without getting anyone more vulnerable than I am sick, then see some grandchildren in Juneau ( some had Covid too. It’s going around), and finally to cruise home to Chip and the dogs.