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.

I knew a family who came to Haines from down south– real south, I think it was Missouri, or maybe Arkansas– who celebrated Valentine’s Day with a Valentine Tree. The branches were bare and draped in twinkling white lights and hung with paper hearts. They all camped out in their living room under big south facing windows on February 14 to celebrate the light of spring. February sunshine, especially here where winters are so dark– is holy, and loved– even more so by people who are used to much more light. They moved back south, and I bet Valentine’s Day is still special for them, but not like it was up north. I’ve been thinking about what’s holy for this talk in North Carolina I give next week, so love has been on my mind a lot. Also, since my beat is finding the good, and love is good and holy, it all fits nicely into my world view. Tie that up with a bow and set it under the Valentine Tree and call it good. 

I wish.

Anyone who says being an optimist is easy is crazy. It’s counterintuitive. Good Lord, just reading the national headlines can make you curl up in a ball under the table. Listening to the local news can trigger hives, and watch out for email. There’s bad news in the in-box. It could cause heart failure if you let it, but I don’t want mine to quit beating, and I’m not giving it up without a fight.

Last night we had another assembly meeting, and it went  a little better. It’s tough to sit in the same room with people who write nasty things about you on Facebook, much less agree with them, when every reptilian brain instinct is to fight mean with mean, and then shout, “Back-at-you-bucko!” The difference between humans and toads is that we can choose how to walk (and talk) in this world. I can’t do anything about snakes on a plane, but I can ignore the rattler hissing in my head.

So, I choose to remain, relentlessly, ridiculously, unapologetically, optimistic (at least in public) because: the power did come back on after the storm, the trip to the clinic was a false alarm, the meeting ended before 10 o’clock,  there’s leftover birthday cake on the counter, my husband wrote me a Valentine that was so sweet I’d marry him all over again, all of our children are well and happy at the same time, and our granddaughter’s fever broke.  There’s a fire in the stove, a very good dog is sleeping on the couch, and If that’s not enough to be happy about, I kid you not, the sun just came out for the first time since before that storm– there’s even a little blue sky! And tomorrow, there’s a community potluck celebrating the life and work of Alaskan civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich at the ANB Hall beginning at 5:30, and the women’s choir will sing, and then there is Rivertalk featuring seven fish tales– which means a lot of laughs- (just what the doctor ordered)– at the Chilkat Center at 7:00.