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.

“For when we begin looking– and I mean really looking, with an attention cleared of formulations and preconceptions– we begin to see combinations and possibilities, order and beauty, anywhere.” John Haines

Dec. 30, Saturday morning,9:45 am on the Chilkat. Low tide. Calm. Light freezing rain. Fresh snow. 33 degrees.

The power went out this morning around eight. Or maybe before. It was dark, but the battery twinkle lights were on and I was reading a new book about John Haines on my laptop. In the glow, I didn’t notice it right away, but when I did, figured it wouldn’t last.

A half hour later I called the borough dispatch to see what was up, and the dispatcher said she was not at liberty to say. Which did nothing to assuage my concern. Without power and very limited cell service, 1/2 bar, there was no other way to find out anything. KHNS was on no-host NPR programming.

Was it a landslide? It’s been snowing, raining and too warm, and a rock slide has been blocking the Haines Highway at 15 mile every day, requiring constant monitoring and a pilot car to pass by it. What if it was worse– like a North Korean missile?  I am still not feeling great, and the way I show it is by being slightly irrational and blue. Forgive me.

It took some persistence, but I did learn that a wire was down on a side road near here, which made me feel much better. Especially since Chip was in town and I hadn’t heard from him. The electricity was still working in the Main Street gym. I hoped the power company crew took their time and were extra safe.  I worry about wires. It’s funny, how once you know what the problem is you are in no rush. It will be solved in due time. It always is.

I had been postponing reading the John Haines book because I prefer paper, and my copy was a PDF. But I am writing a review that is due next week so had to get to it. Turns out procrastinating helped, since in the quiet unplugged morning there was good light to read it by.

John Haines wrote about Alaska, cold, stars, ice. Reading signs in the snow, quiet places and the people who lived in them. When I finished the story, I took a walk out in the icy mist.

( Haines is no relation to our town, though I wish we were named after an Alaskan poet instead of a Brooklyn based missionary that never even visited, much less after an ice storm.)

The ice that took down the power line was making trees crack. It coated everything. In some places it was over an inch thick.


I wanted you to see this ice flower bouquet, even though it is easy to pay attention to such a thing, on such a dramatic morning– because it is proof of the order and beauty in creation, or at least all the proof I need right now.

When I returned home the lights were still out, but Chip was home, and had made coffee on the stove. (I am glad the range is gas and the heat is wood.) Then the lights came on, and the phone rang and pinged and we talked and texted about who lost power and who didn’t, and the fallen trees and broken branches on Mud Bay Road. “It’s crazy,” my daughter said. “We don’t have ice like that at our house. It’s raining.”