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 wonderful purity of nature at this season is a most pleasing fact. Every decayed stump and moss-grown stone and rail, and the dead leaves of autumn, are concealed by a clean napkin of snow. In the bare fields and tinkling woods, see what virtue survives. In the coldest and bleakest places, the warmest charities still maintain a foothold. – Henry David Thoreau

Jan 5, 10 am, the Chilkat beach. 32 degrees. Clear. Fresh snow, ebbing tide.

Sun! Snow! Was there ever a more beautiful morning? (Well, okay, yes, probably. But still. After all the rain- snow-rain-gray this is a balm.)

Beth and I couldn’t even walk together yesterday as we spent the morning clearing snow, I had the radio in the afternoon, and then it was dark and icy.

I stomped a firm snowshoe path down to the tideline though, so it would freeze up overnight for firm footing and it didn’t drift in, so that was another gift.

I told Beth that when I left for the pool early it was snowing to beat the band. In the locker room as I whistled the weather outside is frightful… Joanie ( who is 95) sang …and the fire is so delightful. She sang on right through it doesn’t show signs of stopping and the part about corn for popping, while tugging on her wet suit.

“That’s going to be us when we are old,” I said to Beth.
She doesn’t like to swim. I assured her she will when she’s 95. We can go together.

Then we changed the subject and roamed from exclamations about the sun, the snow, and how that slice of thin ice stays balanced on the stone and wonder why it did not break when it landed there —  to summer weddings. (Beth’s business hosts them) And why no one should ever plan to have dinner outside in Haines. You can always take down a tent, or move tables into the sun, but visa-versa takes on the urgency of an emergency response. Then she told me a story about an acquaintance that tattooed her best friend in high school’s name on the inside of her bottom lip. Beth took off her mitten and turned hers inside out to show me.

“Are they still friends?”

“No! That’s what’s so funny,”  she said.

Apparently the poor woman will spend the rest of her life looking for a new friend with the same name. I’m grateful that I don’t have a tattoo, and that for today anyway– I live in the most beautiful place in the world filled with remarkable people (and a dog named Jeff.)