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.

February really is the month of love this year– The sun! The snow! The wins and grins! Skiing at Chilkoot is so great we keep going back out across the lake– and we are not the only ones– Everyone who has been has gone back. I mean, honestly, I have to pinch myself and ask, do I really live here? Is this really just ten miles from home? I saw my friend Annette who had also returned to Chilkoot after her first visit, and even though she has lived here all her life, she was smiling ear to ear– “Look at this,” she said, gesturing to the frosted trees and river rocks on the way to the lake, “It is so beautiful it gives me goose bumps.” And if that weren’t enough, those puppets at the museum are so gorgeous, alarming, life-like and other worldly they are a treat just to look at,  and to think we have all these puppeteers in such a small town. But they are meant to move as  Geppetto’s Junkyard “Space Lust” performance proved.  So much went into it, yet is seemed effortless– and fun– the sign of a really great show of any kind. The sets– those velvet quilt-curtains, the junkyard bar in outer space– the space ship! The script moved the human heart and was suspenseful and funny. A neat trick.  And those puppets. They came alive just like Geppetto’s little boy had. If that weren’t enough– the Glacier Bear boys basketball team beat Wrangell in a packed gym twice, and the girls rallied after losing terribly Friday night to win on Saturday– and then alumni Kyle Fossman scored 40 points leading his UAA team to a victory in his last home game as a college senior up in Anchorage– and broke school and league scoring records with 12 three pointers. That his parents were up there for the game made it that much sweeter. Sigh. The only trouble with February is that the sunshine through dirty windows  makes my house look so dusty and dingy, and that it is followed by March, which will no doubt be cloudy, snowy, wet and mean and remind us that winter is not quite over. Then again, maybe the polar vortex will stay in the Midwest and this weather will coast right into real spring. I had some funny fan mail this morning from a man who said he read my first book, and that he liked it a lot, but that while he had been to Anchorage he thought he may stay clear of Haines, as there are too many accidental deaths here. “Here in the wilderness of Northern Minnesota it’s too cold for accidents,” he said. What’s on the schedule today? A borough assembly meeting at 6:30. A Heli-port at 26 Mile and an ordinance putting ATVs and snowmachines on the town streets and state road shoulders are on the agenda, among a gazillion other items. The weather is supposed to hold– clear and cold.  If you are out walking in the sun, wear your ice grippers. The hard ice ground, as Emily Dickinson wrote, feels as if it has been brushed with brooms of steel.