Art and Dirt

 My back is sore, my knees hurt, and at Morning Muscles yesterday the 8lb weights were a lot heavier than usual. It is spring, and that means digging, painted, pruning, burning and fixing stuff up. In my neighborhood gardens are being turned over, trees trimmed, one neighbor is building a deck, another is planting flowers and a couple are hanging gillnets in preparation for the fishing season. My chicken coop is clean enough to sleep in, waiting the new chicks that arrive Saturday, the tomato plants are rooted and staked in the green house, the peas and potatoes and salad greens are planted and the window boxes have been stained. All around town gardens are being turned over, flowers are being transplanted to pots on the porches, hanging petunia baskets swing from the eaves, in some places they've even had enough warmth to cut the grass. This morning on the radio there was a report that according to the latest census Haines has more people working from home, 15%, than any place in Alaska. I would bet they are mostly artists. I was half-listening while sipping my coffee and reading Living off the Country, essays on poetry by former Alaska poet laureate John Haines. (No relation to our town's founding mother.) He confirmed what I have long argued, that artists or poets and writers, thrive in a place where they have roots. I would add that people who are firmly planted are more artistic, because they appreciate their surroundings more. It even could be argued that the sense of belonging that comes from dividing the iris bed or painting the house trim, fertilizes the kind of  life, and thus community, where more people volunteer for hospice or at the radio station, or coach Little League or sing in the choir.  John Haines put it this way, "A man who has mistaken his life and who does not believe in what he is doing, who wishes he were somewhere else, doing another thing, is not likely to build good chairs nor to grow good turnips...From that known place, that felt place, it may be possible to go on, to do and become many things." Which means it is time for me to plant the rutabagas and fix the loose stones in the walkway.

In other, related news, the iconic view that is Haines to so many of us and to the world, is for sale. A group of concerned citizens is meeting today at noon at the assembly chambers to discuss how to keep the small waterfront parcel public and preserve that view for future generations. If this is important to you, join us. Tlingit Park's 8th birthday party is Thursday at 3:30 with cupcakes, and the community garden work party is Saturday at 11am at the fairgrounds. It is bike to work week, and Friday is bike to work and bike to school day, there are prizes for bike riders all around town. (Please wear a helmet and be sure your children do. Trust me, heads are soft and roads are hard. Mine saved my brain.)



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