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.

Winter solitude—

In a world of one color

The sound of wind.— Basho

Tenakee Springs, about 11 am, 30 degrees, east wind, cloudy with flurries. A big snowstorm is coming our way.

There was ice on the puddles and frost on all the decks this morning, including the float plane dock, and it stayed that way all day.

Teresa and I brought the cart down with my bags and a few totes for me to fill with groceries for her in Juneau and send back with her Thanksgiving guests. That is if the roads are clear enough to shop tomorrow, and if they can fly out  to Tenakee before Thursday.

The first winter storm of the year is forecast for the whole region, so my last day in Tenakee was sooner than I had anticipated, to be sure I can catch the ferry home from Juneau Wednesday morning. A friend chartered in today and offered me a seat on the return trip. Teresa and I watched for the plane and as soon as we heard it ran down to the dock where we’d already staged the gear.  “Make this quick,” the pilot said. “The snow is coming.” He tossed all the stuff in the back and we hopped in.

He is a very good pilot, the son of a very good pilot, and knows his way around southeast, so I was not worried (well not yet…) and I was with the former mayor of Tenakee who is a wilderness river guide. I figured between them we’d be okay– “in the unlikely event of an emergency landing.”

That, and this plane is meant to land on water. It floats.  I also had a sleeping bag in one of my duffels, and all my clothes, so figured we could overnight anywhere on the coast if we needed to.

We didn’t.

It was snowing in earnest when we landed in Juneau. I think we were the last flight in today.

There was a moment when I prayed hard, and thought, what if this is it? But then the little plane swayed, bounced and revved a bit, and when I opened my eyes again we were approaching the Juneau airport. The runway never looked so good. It’s nice to be on the ground again with nothing but good stories to tell my grandchildren.