Sitka Postcard (And a baby picture or two. Can't help myself.)
As you can imagine, it has been a little busy around here. What with the baby being born, Chip's trip to see Grandma Joanne in Florida, Eliza is here now too taking the wilderness medicine class while I babysit her much higher energy Golden Retriever than my mellow little Pearl, an overdue column, an obituary, the book I'm supposed to be writing-- not to mention all the new snow. We have officially stomped the old record, and before last night's snow had a little over 28 feet for the season. And yes, it is still snowing. The roads and walkways are awful. We have, I think cried Uncle and mostly quit shoveling and plowing until spring, which is only a few weeks away (and one night, if you count the depressing spring-ahead hour forward on the clocks time change tonight, which means our bright mornings will be dark again. But that's another story.) And seriously, we haven't quite given up on snow pile management because we can't. Chip just waded off to shovel the latest heavy foot or so off his boat and hold the baby next door. That means I have a minute to post a long overdue slide show from Sitka. Baby Lani Stephanova was born in Sitka's Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, operated by SEARHC, the same Native health consortium that owns the Haines clinic, and since Haines doesn't have a hospital, SEARHC Native healthcare beneficiaries like Nels - who is Haida and Tlingit-- (and others who choose to), head to Sitka for babies. Sitka is a tidy, well-maintained busy little fishing city, with a wooden Russian Orthodox cathedral smack in the center of downtown. It is about 155 miles southwest of Haines on Baranof Island - by ferry or Alaska Airlines jet from Juneau-- with one shoulder on the Pacific, and about 9000 people, two hospitals, two high schools, a waterfront library, lovely old stone Episcopal Church, a swimming pool, and a lot of culture and a lot of history -- Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska, and the first capital of American Alaska as well as home to a strong Tlingit community. Sitka only has about 21 miles of paved roads, but always sends several top cycling teams to the Kluane to Chilkat bike relay here in June. My favorite Alaska author, John Straley lives there too, and they have a terrific bookstore- Old Harbor Books, a public radio station, and a daily independent newspaper. When I am old I'd like to retire to the Sitka Pioneer Home. I recently wrote an obituary for Helen Fenn, she was almost a hundred when she died there -- but Helen retired back in 1979 and entered the Pioneer Home in 1981, not because she was frail, but because she liked the place. The funniest part of writing her obituary was learning that she came and went at least four different times from the home-- to taking leaves of absences for big trips to places all around the world. It's not every nursing home that has such an appeal. Sitka is a very fine place to be begin life, as well.