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.

There’s that moment each year when you write the new date on a thank-you note or a check and can’t quite believe it: 1-3-13. 2013? Really? I need to take down my December calendars too. The tree is already gone and the living room seems so much bigger and lighter.  Little Caroline and I took it down, and it was much more fun than putting it up. We neatly wrapped each ornament and talked about them much more than we had when we put them all up. I suppose there is less pressure to make it special, you know? We even put on some Christmas music, and shared a stale candy cane. She was very impressed when I pulled out the clippers and lopped off the branches and tossed them out the window onto the porch. Then we carried the thinner pole of a tree down to the beach and “planted” it in the snow and hopped over ice flows along the beach until lunchtime. (We’ll be picking up the needles we didn’t sweep up in our socks until next Christmas.) I like to keep the tree decorated until Epiphany on Jan. 6, but since we are leaving on the ferry today to visit my husband’s family in Florida for two weeks, I can’t. On Sunday, our priest reminded us that the 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas. Well, there are no lords a leaping around here, but I am frantically packing and writing long lists for my family and house sitters who are caring for the dogs and hens and all of it. You’d think I was never coming back. Yesterday I cleaned the chicken coop and banked it all up with lots of straw and bought an extra bag of feed. This morning, as soon as it is light I’ll walk Pearl one last time with my neighbor, who has promised to stop in and take her for walks while I’m away. Although Pearl is firmly planted on my bed right now and won’t budge. She knows something is up. Then I’ll have tea with another neighbor just to say farewell. For now.  Yesterday a few of us met up on Officer’s Row to begin writing a new summer show for the Chilkat Center, we have in mind a kind of comedy- variety show based on real life here. I have been assigned a four minute sketch on the way we bury our dead — and ordered  to make it funny.  I am thinking about my neighbor’s Newfoundland dog who died in bleak midwinter and was stored in a wheelbarrow in the boat shed until the ground thawed enough to bury him. I have also known smaller pets- Guinea pigs, parakeets, hamsters, a cat even– who spent the winter in the freezer tucked between the peas and moose burger packages. But I would rather not think about death right now, since I am a fearful traveler and pretty sure I’ll never see home again every time I leave, which is not sane, I know. So, I am determined to take it as a good luck sign that the first time I wrote the new year was yesterday– and it was 1-3-13. Lucky 13 will begin my year, and my travels, and all will be fine. Breathe, as they say in yoga and at the big sign on the Port Chilkoot Dock. Breathe. One of the stories my co-writers suggested I share was the way friends buried Guy in his front yard after they were told they couldn’t have a viking-style funeral pyre at Paradise Cove.Guy would have loved that. He always used to say if you don’t like the weather, then make your own high pressure system. Those are wise words to live by– and travel by, don’t you think? Exhale worry. Inhale joy. Breathe. Just Breathe.