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.

People are leaving messages in the sand, and little gifts, like heart shaped rocks for others to see. Across the river snow is sliding off the mountains and it looks like one bear den is open up high. (You can see the muddy tracks on the snow.) The squirrels are teasing the dogs, there are flies in the chicken coop, and the magpies and jays are getting pretty cheeky. One barely kept social distance from my peanut butter sandwich during lunch out on the deck.

Over at Haines Assisted Living the old people are on lockdown, so I called my friend Betty twice yesterday. She called me once, and said our neighbor Lyle dropped off his special moose jerky, and one of the staff still working there brought it to her suite. That made her day.

My friend Anna organized a Friday morning coffee klatch conference call. It was just like a meeting, but for fun. She was at her house up on Union Street “I confess, I’m drinking tea…” she began.   Beth was out Mud Bay Road, Nancy called in from 5-mile, Sue was down in Port Townsend and Teresa is still in Tucson. We all talked about how we were doing. Anna has two commercial pilots in her family, so she brought travel news. Beth’s niece is a nurse in Seattle and that’s the front lines. Hospital beds are filling up. Of course baby Emilia had her moment ( Nancy is now her great Godmother since JJ is Nancy’s God daughter), anyway, we laughed and gave thoughtful advise.  It was almost normal.

We also  weighed the risks of staying put or coming home now, with Teresa and Sue. Haines is always isolated.There’s no hospital.The clinic protocal is to medivac seriously ill patients out by plane or helicopter. But if we get ill here, then I’m sure Juneau would be in trouble too, and the Anchorage and Seattle hospitals could reach their limits quickly. Who will take us in, who will care for us?

I know, I am a tad manic right now. Who isn’t?

I’m also learning about Zoom. Our church will meet Sunday morning, same time, online. Yesterday, Mandy held a yoga class on Zoom at noon, just like usual. I should have tried it, but I was in the middle of washing the downstairs windows. (She’s doing it again Monday.) After lunch I raked the snow path down to the beach (it was all bumpy and hard to walk on so I smoothed it off) and used  a five gallon bucket and trowel to scatter sand on top for traction, and to help melt it. I took a pick ax to ice in the driveway, and dug little trenches in the gravel to drain the mud puddles away from the back porch.

The sky is falling and I’m out raking snow. I drank a beer with lunch. I’m talking to my dog and I think she’s talking back. The conference call soothed my waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop anxiety. So did visiting with Betty and my Dad and Grandma Joanne  on the phone. When we do talk to each other, we all put our best voices on no doubt to reassure each other, and in that what goes around comes around way, reaching out helps me, too. Breathe. Look at those mountains. Feel the sun.

“The good news,” my daughter Sarah said on the phone from across town after wondering why I hadn’t been home all day, and didn’t I know I should not be out?- Until I explained that I was just in the yard doing the windows and putzing — “Is that Alaskans are pretty good at self-isolating and staying busy.”

Self sufficiency is a way of life. Heck, we actually do cut our own hair. I just counted the jars of salmon in the pantry and there are still plenty to share. Speaking of sharing, there  are (healthy) shoppers in Haines bringing groceries to the quarantined returning travelers and elders. Although, I worry about that. Wouldn’t it be better if no one actually went shopping in the stores? To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, accidentally? We could call or email in orders and have boxes left outside, or 2x4s and paint  loaded into pick-ups. I hope Chip does this  at the lumberyard starting Monday.  Messages of love aren’t only in the sand. They are in every action we take.

Before the sun dropped behind the mountain, I scraped away at the last melting glacier on the deck and cleaned the grill. I started to haul out more chairs and the table, but realized that no one can come over anyway, and then tried not to think about that. Instead, I told myself to feel good  because I’m doing everything I can to make sure that someday, hopefully before the end of summer, we will all gather for a big picnic and properly introduce Emilia to her Haines family and all of our friends. Every single one.