I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

 Yesterday morning three year-old Caroline and I attended the Presbyterian Church. She told her mother that she was going a new church, not the “Haines church where Nancy plays the piano.”  Which is kind of funny since the Episcopal mission we usually attend in the lobby of the arts center has about ten of us, including an old dog, and the Presbyterians founded the town of Haines and even named the site the Tlingits gave them after a Presbyterian official, Francina Haines– . Anyway, we went to hear Caroline’s Aunt Stoli play the piano.  She’s begun participating in the service music at her church of choice. And there she was, sitting up front, playing the first hymns (they sing two, one traditional and one modern, back to back, each time. A compromise, I assume.) Caroline did very well since we sat next to her uncle Nels and little cousin Lani, except during the sermon when we ducked out and found some play dough down in the Sunday school playroom. We returned for communion. She was impressed by the tiny cups of grape juice. At our church she cannot sip the wine. Then, during the offertory hymn she walked down the side aisle right up front to Stoli and tugged her sleeve. She wanted to play with her. I came to the rescue and scooped her up, but  I had to hold her a minute before we walked back to our seat so I wouldn’t cry. I was so happy. When I was a child my grandmother gave us a piano so we’d learn music.  When I visited her, she took me to her church. My mother also made sure we took lessons and attended church and when our children were not much older than Caroline, she shipped a piano to Alaska for them  to learn on. She died before ever seeing Stoli playing hymns ancient and modern in this church.  But she (and her mother) are why I take Caroline to church. And why we came to hear Stoli play. Someday, maybe, Lani will take her granddaughter to church- this one, or another one in town,  or one far away– and maybe, just maybe, even to hear Cousin Caroline play, keeping the river of  music and faith flowing in our family. A grandmother couldn’t hope for more than that, you know?

 (Caroline opens her slushbrella on our way to church.)