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.

I saw a friend yesterday who also used to have a home full of kids and I confessed that only she would appreciate how I had lived through all that busy family time, and along the way had many dogs—some really, really good ones, and only a few not so good—and I can’t recall now at all how I raised them. The food bowl was just sort of always topped off, finders keepers style. One ate a chocolate cake. A whole one. He did not die. I don’t even think he threw up. Now, my yard is littered with dog toys. I fear I am becoming that crazy lady covered in dog hair with pockets full of kibbles.That old couch I almost replaced? Good thing I procrastinated. 

The other night, after taking one final pass around the yard in the pouring rain in my big rubber fisherman’s foul weather coat I almost cried, “I want my life back!” Shaking the water out of my hair and wrestling with a puppy and a towel, while the good old dog patiently waited to be patted dry, I said to my husband, “I know, it’s only a puppy.” 

And what’s not to love? 


Then I thought of those poor people in Houston, so much wetter, and with so much to worry about that is frighteningly real, and those pictures of them carrying their elders, babies, and yes, dogs and puppies through the water, in canoes, helicopter rescue baskets, high-water trucks—and skiffs and bass boats.

On the news last night the announcer kept calling the armada of citizen rescuers “Heroes.” One pair of guys in camo and ball caps brushed him off in their polite southern way, “No sir, we are not heroes,” they said.  They explained that they were simply helping people in trouble because they had a boat, and some gas, and could. They said shuttling folks from one danger to the uncertainty of a temporary shelter wasn’t helping all that much, but it was a start.

I’m so lucky to be able to hang my wet gear in a dry mudroom, and have a puppy digging in my old couch cushions.  I want to do more with my good fortune. But what?  Haines is a long way from Houston.

In lots of ways the lesson learned from any tragedy comes down to the same values, no matter where you live —be kinder, be braver, be more grateful. Pay attention to the needs of others. I will work harder not to beat myself up for what I don’t do, and appreciate what I can accomplish.  As my friend who used to live farther North said in the pool locker room this morning, “It’s like eating a whale. Have you heard that expression?” I shook my head, No.  “One bite at a time,”  she said.  Which is why I just sent a donation to Harvey relief through our national church fund, Episcopal Relief and Development. It’s not heroic, not even close, but every little bit—or should I say bite?- helps.