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.

Don’t worry, spiders,

 I keep house

casually.   – Issa


He leads  the humble in what is right,

and teaches the humble his way. – Psalm 25


I am being paid back for all of my socializing last weekend with a cold. It’s not Covid ( I have taken 2 tests), just that old familiar  head cold. (Well, not so familiar during these last two masked and isolated years.) I made a soup full of vegetables, garlic, ginger, tumeric and curry to weaken its grip.

Now, I’m singing ‘La grippe, la grippe, la post-nasal drip’ from Guys and Dolls as my nose runs from the spices.

Also, tomorrow is the the first day of spring and the mud is thick and the ants have arrived right on time. I smacked two dead on the counter near the honey as I was pouring tea. Since I have been mostly prone,  reading a novel and magazines, and looking at texts & photos from my children including one daughter on a beach in Hawaii which would be a nice cure, and my attention span is lessened by all the sneezing, I opened up the new Orion and flipped to the poems and short pieces.

I stopped on one very brief essay or report, with a photo of ants blown up large, that contained a house shaking discovery shared by Kathleen Yale. She writes that in 2017 a scientist named Erik Frank watched some African “paramedic” ants rescue other hunter ants that had been injured by the termites they were trying to eat and called for help in their ant language “a phernome plea” and then drag the victims back to their ant nest. Erik Frank said that “nurse” ants licked the wounds and healed 90 % of their  fellow ant patients. Kathleen Yale, as any logical scholar would, determines that this behavior is “likely less about mercy and more about group survival.”   My heart leans toward the mercy of ants. (Although in the end, Kathleen does take the leap from ant care to community healthcare, but it is the caregiving-themed issue, so there may have been an editorial nudge in that direction.)

Still, what are Mary Oliver’s Instructions for Living a Life?

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

There are entire universes living in the nooks and crannies of my house, including ants near the honey jar that I used to know nothing about it. I am ignorant no longer. There is something divine in ants, and in me and you and mud too. (Let’s not mention reincarnation now, okay?)

God teaches the humble the way.

I hope the dogs don’t get fleas. Or lice. And that the few (there are not that many- I don’t keep house that casually)  tiny, tiny ants in my kitchen, are the paramedic variety who will get a phernome call any second to go help the rest of the ants that are being hunted and pecked at out in the chicken coop, where as we all know, ants belong.