We are running toward the light this Lent, and instead of giving up stuff we are holding on to what we have. For Sarah’s 36 birthday she ran a marathon (26.2 miles) in Haines. She planned someplace exotic, but we know how that goes. Still,  two fun friends and her sister Stoli (in a leopard print suit, of course) joined her for twelve or ten or five miles of the run. It was -1 when she began, and blowing a north gale. It was warmest in the sun and when the wind was at her back. The mountains shade the light, but what there is this time of year is glorious. This is one of the prettiest marathon courses anywhere, and we didn’t need to worry about traffic. Papa Bob and I drove along and cheered.

(Sort of, Papa Bob turned up the heat, stayed in the car, and dropped the seat back and napped between Sarah sightings and sometimes through them.) Sarah’s  husband drove with water and snacks, and one of her running partner’s husband wore a mullet wig and jumped out with a “run fast” sign every now and then.

Papa Bob and I, former marathoners ourselves, missed the chance to jog along, but not too much.  I was feeling slow and a little tired thanks to the second dose of the Moderna vaccine the day before so it was perfect timing for a scenic drive around town. Yes, the vaccine is a huge cause for celebration in Haines, now that most us have been vaccinated life will be busier in the best ways. I am going to the pool again on Friday, the family is all coming over Friday and Saturday and I bet Sunday too. Papa Bob is going have to share his couch.

Sarah had her second jab after the run, and suffered no side effects, but that could be a coincidence and not because she ran so far, since, as her husband noted, female 35-40 year olds that run a marathon in freezing conditions the same day as their shot are probably a focus group of one. So is Shannon Stevens who was bit in the butt by a bear in an outhouse at Chilkat Lake last weekend. What next? Snakes on the ferry? The outhouse bear will be all over the news and I bet on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” You can read the whole story at KHNS-FM.  And this is just two weeks after Bart stepped on that bear den while hiking up Mt. Ripinsky to ski, and the mother bear woke up really grumpy and could have killed him, but for his strength, well prepared partners, and the Coast Guard, but he is okay and home from the hospital now. Shannon is okay, too. It makes me feel silly about complaining about my dad eating crackers and ice cream on the couch, you know?

He loved the pancakes for supper on Tuesday night, but there were no ashes over Zoom on Ash Wednesday so we didn’t turn on the service and I don’t need to reminded that from dust we came and to dust we will return. Honestly, haven’t we been in Lent for a whole year?

Here is what I love right now: that my daughters make the best of winter, snow and isolation. That Sarah didn’t let Covid travel restrictions stop her from her planned run, that  her friends and sisters can jump in and run with her, with such style and joy, and especially that she and they and more grown-ups in Haines have turned cold hard ground into a skating rink with plywood and hoses and are teaching my granddaughters to play hockey-  How to love winter, this place, and each other–