I haven't had my coffee yet since there isn't any available here in my dorm room at UAA so please excuse any typos. I've been grabbing a cup on the way to the morning lecture at the Starbucks in the UAA library. I also stayed up late practicing my colloquia, which as far as I can tell is a literary kind of talk that I'll give this afternoon at 4:30 to the students and faculty here in order meet the final degree requirements for my MFA. I am nervous. My colloquia is on what I have learned about writing and life from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (The Yearling).
Heather Lende's blog
I am in Anchorage, at the summer residency for UAA's MFA in creative writing program. I am here as a student. Tonight we saw a film featuring John Haines (no relation to Haines, AK.) , Alaska's most respected writer who died last winter. Here is what he had to say about life and art and place, from in an essay in his collection Living Off the Country :
I can't figure out how summer gets so busy (in a good kind of way.) Is it really July already? Papa Bob is still here, and my daughter is up from Juneau, so we are riding bikes at the crack of dawn each day, after watching the Tour de France live at 5am, and then eating and putzing it seems all day long. The good news is all this hanging around makes for relatively easy fish smoking and garden tending. My first batch of salmon is done and ready for the canner this morning.
Last night at dinner Papa Bob, his lady friend, and my son debated the thrills of bungee jumping versus sky diving. Has Papa Bob been bungee jumping too? He didn't tell me this. (He will be 79 in September.)Before I could ask, he said he hadn't, but he might like to. Luckily his friend did not find leaping off a cliff with a giant rubber band tied to her ankles as much fun as jumping out of an airplane at 20,000 feet with a parachute and neither did my son.
From Look and See a poem by Mary Oliver:
"Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we only look, and see."
I probably shouldn't have breakfast this morning since I'll be eating Fireman Al's Texas barbecue for lunch with everyone else in town down at the firehall. It's the Haines Volunteer Fire Department's annual fundraiser. Before that there's the farmers market at the fairgrounds and afterwards the Mad Raft race down the Chilkoot. The 4th festivities are stretched out over three days this year. Some of the kids are over in Skagway playing softball but will return later today and tomorrow, and Papa Bob is here and wants to spend the week hiking and eating a lot of salmon.
I spent yesterday afternoon at community radio station KHNS pitching for the annual fundraiser. The goal this year is 55,000 and we reached somewhere around 40,000 during the show (math is not my strength) and had a lot fun talking about the radio and the community and all the ways we are linked. As for me, I would probably not be writing to you had it not been for KHNS. I worked there back in the 80s, as a country show host and later as the morning show host.
Here, we catch most of our fish with a net. Chip and I were up early Sunday and skipped church to catch five sockeye. It was slow, but a lovely morning to be out on the water, and we did get plenty of fish for dinner this week.
It is the morning after a good wedding and our own 29th anniversary, so here's a verse from Leah Furnas's poem, The Longly-Weds Know -
"That it isn't about the Golden Anniversary at all,
But about all the unremarkable years
that Hallmark doesn't even make a card for."
This morning on our bike ride my husband said that drafting is the cycling equivalent of spooning. "It's so comfortable you don't want to leave." That was what I was thinking when he woke me up at five to ride. But I know what he means. I think that envelope of easy speed you feel when you are riding behind someone is a little like a sacrament-- you can't see exactly see grace on a bike, but you can feel it.