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.


The sunrise and sunsets have been in sync with the flow and ebb of the tides this week. My days are bookended by dog walks, and they are suddenly, it seems, too close together. The morning walk is done about 10:30 and the evening walk begins around 2:30. It ends in darkness, but has the firm footing of wet sand to march on so passes quicker. The first walk is slower. The upland snow hides logs, rocks, and those holes the bears dig each fall searching for roots. The morning dogs are crazy to run and play. I am joined by a friend and we always talk a lot. 

     “You go first.” 
      “No you.” 

We walk carefully picking our route.  We are grateful for the pink sliver of southern sunrise below the clouds and above the inlet. We know that we are lucky to be here, and still here, if you know what I mean. 

What do we talk about? The news, the always alarming news, then we switch, “It’s too depressing,”  to life and death and what it all means (I write obituaries, she organizes hospice care, so we think about these things, a lot), and sometimes books or a movie, or how to be better people, and what our schedules are for the day, or a dream she had last night. What’s for dinner? Christmas cookie recipes. A fear that I need her help with. Always some wonderful revelation —  terminal cancer cured by prayer? Really?

“And why not?”

 Sometimes there is a confession. We forgive our less than noble thoughts or deeds.

 Frederick Buechner writes that we humans are “creatures on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage.” Maybe this is why I’m humming over the rainbow with my carols. This is after all the darkest time of the year and ends by slamming into the chaos of Christmas. “Irrational” is how Madeleine L’ Engle describes the season. Mindfulness, miracles, magic, Magi, and mayhem.

 One minute I’m laughing and bravely ringing the Salvation Army bell at the grocery store, singing with the choir in the Holly Jolly Follies, wrapping gifts, hanging (just a few) more lights, reading Chip (poor man) snippets from A Child’s Christmas in Wales during Monday Night Football, and the next, listening to the radio when John McCutcheon sings about a WW I soccer game between the Germans and the English on Christmas Day in Flanders– a true story—and I cry. I sit there by the fire with my book on my lap and just sob.

Still, my world is weighted toward so much light. Family, friends, a warm, dry home. (And the wet dogs do love me for these walks, and I them for hauling me out in all kinds of nasty weather.) 

I’m thinking about that heron right now. Have I mentioned this?  We saw it in the near dark, by the pond, rise up and extend its long neck, kick its bony legs, and crank wide its wings and fly– like a dinosaur, no like something even more ancient and wise and other worldly- but it didn’t leave us, instead it circled around and landed hard, bouncing like hope, and balancing like faith, and holding on tightly as love to that wet spruce bough as the rain changed to snow.