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.

Actually, I’m home now, sweeping up dog hair and unpacking and answering mail from a week away, mostly in NYC except for the traveling days (planes and ferries). It takes a few days coming and going to go from here to anywhere this time of year. My daughter Sarah joined me for a small family service to inter my father’s ashes at the family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. My sisters stayed up on the farm in Dutchess County, but we decided to spend the weekend in the city and see the sites,

and take in a show with 18,000 or so others at Madison Square Garden.

Brandi Carlile is a bonafide rock star. I am a huge fan, but I was not prepared for her electric stage presence and the power of her performance.  Brittany Howard opened the concert and she also blew our hair back with her energy and passion. Sarah and I rode back to the hotel at midnight in a pedi-cab blaring a mix of Brandi’s songs and popular New York hits, which was crazy-fun. Our driver wheeled around in a figure eight on Madison Avenue, and we survived.

We went to a ball game too. A really big one, the final American League Playoff game at Yankee Stadium–

There were flowers in the New York parks, but it was snowing when we got home.

And it has been snowing on and off ever since, which didn’t stop Sarah and her friends from hopping on paddle boards for the annual Halloween witches paddle yesterday.

Some of us believe that this time of year– All Hallows Eve, and All Saints’ and All Soul’s Days– are when the spirits of the dead fly closest to the earth. I want to feel it, and I do. A few nights ago the northern lights put on one of those shows that are all action and not a lot of color. There were so many swirling white blobs, diving and spinning and darting all over the sky and dipping low over the backyard. It’s the kind of aurora that I call Casper the Friendly Ghosts. That’s what they looked like. I also don’t believe it was a coincidence that we finally brought my father back to the place he wanted to rest in for eternity, or at least where he wanted his ashes to be– next to my mother and his parents and grandparents– and afterward all these spirits were dancing outside my bedroom window. I believe he was pleased to be out of my office.  But I kind of miss him. (Voltaire is still here…he was at Grandpa’s house and Dad’s and someone had to take him, and I am the oldest.)

It was pretty stormy at our house last night after sundown, but on the town-side, not so much. Hospice of Haines didn’t cancel the annual “Light the Night” remembrance of the dead on the Port Chilkoot Dock. I’m on the board and my job was to brew a thermos of peppermint tea. Tim baked ginger cookies and shoveled and Beth brought the lights. Shannon set up most of it and Leslie helped too. Shawn, the harbor master even drove down the dock and switched on the lights for us. I  put a piece of paper with Papa Bob’s name on it a canning jar and set it next to the lanterns on the edge of the dock near the others. It was nice to see to friends out there in the night, and to chat and laugh, hug and take a quiet, private stroll down the dock and back.

Here’s something I want to be sure to tell you about our trip to the big city and back: everyone we met was helpful and friendly. Kind. It seems that there are still plenty of good spirits here below, too.

Remember that.