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 after the holidays, January thru March, is real winter, and also the best time to get sick, so the timing was right for my wicked sore throat and cold. I gave myself the prescription Doc Feldman would have- bed rest. He is retired and lives down south now, in Washington, but he used to say there is almost nothing that a week in bed and drinking plenty of fluids won’t cure. A week at work flies by, but a week in bed? It might as well be a century. Two days were plenty, and a luxury.  I know that– and felt it underneath my misery. At least I am able stay in bed when I’m sick. That is not an option for many. 

 Trixie and I watched a whole season of The Great British Baking Show (she really does watch it and that delights me) and  I finished a Sara Paretsky detective novel, began Susan Orleans’ library book, and re-read the collected poems of Mary Oliver. We napped a lot too. (Pearl doesn’t watch TV. She went to work with Chip.)


A person can’t stay in bed all winter, or nothing would get done around here, and what’s the point of Alaska in the winter if you aren’t in it? What is that line, from a poem by Wallace Stevens and a Canadian folk song I keep humming, how a person must have “a mind for winter”? Real winter is not all dogs on the bed and reading poetry by the fire. (Although that is a perk.) 


It is, as little Madeleine said, loving “winter snow and ice.” And I do and I’m ready to bundle up and head out at least to walk the dogs today. (It’s windy, the harbormaster is asking boat owners to check your lines.)

Tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of the craziest, boldest, most Alaskan of events that can only happen in winter – the Alcan 200 snowmachine race from the Alaska Canada border above Haines to the Yukon’s Dezdeash Lake and back on the Haines Highway which closes for the morning.  (Forecast- in Canadian of course:  mix of sun and clouds, north winds to 20 K, and temperatures to minus 18. Risk of frostbite.)Local and visiting snowmachiners speed as fast as they can a hundred miles out and a hundred miles back at about a hundred miles an hour (I’m serious that’s how fast the winners go) with duct tape all over their faces to prevent skin from freezing. It begins at 10 am at about 40-Mile. Watching it is a challenge, there is a bus you can ride, but the best bet is to hear the stories in the bar tonight and at the banquet tomorrow night. You could also ski or ride your machines around near the start and finish at treeline or on the old road, and time it to catch both.There are shorter races and family friendly snowmachine games on Sunday, thanks to the Snowburners snow machine club.

You’d think that would be enough excitement for one weekend  but there is also the Haines Dolphins’ swim team winter swim meet at the pool, today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Volunteers are still needed. Call the pool or talk to a swim team parent. (Timing is a great way to watch. It’s hot in the pool too, so you can wear shorts and flip-flops and pretend you are in Belize.)

There are home basketball games as well. The Glacier Bear boys play the Wrangell Wolves at 6:00 tonight, and the girls play at 7:30. The JV teams will be playing too, so the gym will be full all weekend.

Also, looking ahead to next weekend, you can still sign up for the Arts Confluence paper mosaic assemblage class with Kelleen Adams. It costs 40.00 dollars and lasts all afternoon on Saturday Feb. 2 at the Chilkat Inlet Retreat. (Just to hang out there is worth it. There is a woodstove in the lodge so it will be warm.)