That was what counted…those unexpected moments of appreciation, unanticipated glimpses of beauty and kindness— any of the things that attached us to this world and made us forget , even for a moment, its pain and its transience.– Isabel Dalhousie ( Alexander McCall Smith)
Friday morning, 8:10. Fog, 38 degrees, low tide.
I took the same walk out past the harbor today as I did yesterday, same time too- and was in an entirely different world.
Yesterday was calm and clear all day. A surprise, as the forecast wasn’t as good, so Teresa and I walked for about five and half miles from her house, through town, past the library and artist Rie Munoz’s grave and down the long trail to a picture perfect homestead. A log house, gardens, lawn, beach. Greenhouse and solar panels. No one was home.
Teresa’s son’s birthday is today, so they will call him later. I cooked Teresa and Larry dinner the night he was born 39 years ago. It was a snowy day in Haines. That’s how long we have been friends.
Time in Tenakee runs on its own clock. Partly it’s because the weather decides when you will be out and about, since there are no cars. The store is only open 11-1. We walk, or ride the bikes if we are in a hurry, sometimes we miss it and have to wait a day for baking powder, or an onion.
Teresa’s husband Larry and daughter Lyndsey had to wait until midday when the tide was high to launch the skiff. Larry went out after dark to haul the trailer off the beach at low tide.
Teresa and I have been going to the bath (natural hot spring, 106 degrees, nude bathing only) during the evening women’s hours at 6:00. That means that even though it’s been dark since about 3:30 we don’t eat until 7:30 or 8:00. We cook before we bathe so it’s ready when we return. Last night I made barley soup and corn bread for everyone. Her three old grandson Jax ate two bowls, so that was a victory.
This week also marks my own time change, when at least in my mind I shifted from being “from New York” to being “from Haines.” Our friend’s fishing boat sank, and one son died and two and a friend were rescued, and suddenly grief and joy shared the same room in the house of my heart. That week our youngest daughter turned nine. She was 33 yesterday. Stojanka did not live with us when she was three, like little Jax. She had arrived from a Bulgarian orphanage a few months before the accident. We were still beaming with wonder and happiness after adding a fifth child to the family when we attended the funeral. So high and so low, and so much love all mixed up in it, was a lot. Is a lot. Remains a lot. It comes back every November. She sobbed during the service. (WE all did.) Then little Stojanka hardly spoke English, but she spoke love fluently– and she understood the grief of being separated from family, in way that I will never.
I’ve been thinking about all of this as I walk these beaches and trails, and I wonder if I will ever be as home in another place as I am in Haines, even if it’s only part-time. I know the price you pay for love, and is it bad to say I’m not sure I want to be that connected?
Oh heck, who am I kidding? I can’t help myself. I love it here already.
I’ll jump in with both feet and take the consequences.
You may have guessed that I am building a cabin here, to visit, to have a place of my own, to spend a month or two each fall and winter. Bring friends down. Write. Bring my daughters down. (Of course I’m adding bunks for the grandchildren, a place to butcher deer for Chip. A small washing machine. The dog bed will fit under the stairs.)
Speaking of dreams of spending more time here, I need to get to work. There are floorboards to finish before the library board meeting at three. (Yes, I am already on the board.) Tomorrow, I give a writing workshop and a book talk at the library, 2-4. I wonder if anyone will come?