Heather Lende

HAINES -- I’ve been looking at the storefront windows displaying local artwork on Main Street, and thinking about how well they reflect the spirit of this town, in a way that reminds me of something some wise person once wrote about the eyes being windows to the soul. Actually, it was Shakespeare. I didn’t have that ready reference in my soggy brain (it has been raining here for weeks) so I Googled it. Before the Internet, I would have run to the library to look that up. Also, thanks to my laptop and free shipping, I can buy dog food and laundry soap without going to the grocery store. But I don’t and I won’t, ever, because I believe in small towns in general and this one in particular. They have Main Streets with real stores owned by real people whose birthdays and weddings and funerals...Heather Lende
HAINES -- I try to see the bright side of things, so it may be no surprise that my year in review from Haines, this fishing and tourist town of about 2,500 people, is a (sort of) top 10 of 2014. 1) Dugout canoe journey: Local Tlingits paddled a 28-foot traditional dugout canoe that tribal youths built with guidance from artist Wayne Price 100 miles down Lynn Canal to Juneau for Celebration, the regional gathering of clans. The dugout held six paddlers who switched in and out from a larger scow and fishing boat traveling with them, plus Wayne, who steered the whole way from the stern. "There are few times when you know for certain you did something right, and this time I knew I had done that. My mission in life is to pass on what it means to make a dugout. When I hear the songs of my...Heather Lende
The power went out at night earlier this week and I woke up when the low hum of the fridge stopped and the computer beeped, thinking I need to get it together for Thanksgiving and started making mental lists: Brine the turkey (at least it is thawed). Make that new wild rice and quinoa dish that cooks inside its own green pumpkin-like squash that I want to try because my friend Beth said it is really good, and I can make it a day ahead. Wash the napkins. Make sure there is a comfortable rocker for Eliza and baby James. (Yes, my daughter and her 1-month-old are coming from Juneau, so there will five children under four. Maybe I should just put a roll of paper towels on the table?) It is still rainy and mild, which is weird, so I haven't filled the window boxes with greens yet like I usually...Heather Lende
HAINES -- When the Chilkat Valley News comes out on Thursdays, I read every word right through the “unclassified” ads section, and then re-read the best parts out loud to my husband. Election results always make the front page. We have a new mayor. Jan Hill, who owns a bead shop, is active on lots of regional boards and has been mayor before, defeated incumbent Stephanie Scott, a retired teacher who has a flower farm, 551-473. There were no headlines or commentaries about the significance of having two women vying for our top elected office, or that our new mayor is a Native woman. What’s more, the brides in Haines’ first same-sex marriage were bold-faced in the “Duly Noted” social column of the paper, just like any other wedding party. That’s progress. There are always one or two stories...Heather Lende
HAINES -- I sat on the moss, watching my husband cup his hands and make the long nasal whine of a cow moose in heat, and though it is usually kind of funny, I hope he didn’t notice my tears. I can’t help it. Three months ago, Chip couldn’t take a deep breath. “Any questions?” the doctor at Harborview Medical Center said back then, leaning over the post-surgery hospital bed. There was a tube in Chip’s chest keeping his lung from collapsing and a shark bite of a scar halfway around his waist. He was so skinny, suddenly frail and alarmingly dopey from medication. Two days earlier, my 57-year-old take-charge endurance athlete of a husband had been as fit as he’d ever been in order to compete in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay. On June 21, at the start of his 80-mile stage (I was...Heather Lende
HAINES -- We never had those dog days of summer, although every day is a dog day in a town with 1,897 dogs and 2,400 people. But we had plenty of duck days, breaking the summer rainfall record. While out walking with my retriever Pearl, I saw Paul Swift, who measures precipitation for the National Weather Service down in Juneau with his wife, Annie, and their old heeler Sissy. He said we had 16.87 inches in June, July and August. The wettest summer prior to this one was a half-century ago. Paul and I are glass-half-full people, so I asked if this much rain is good for anything except slugs in the kale and he said, “The vegetation really took off.” The brush adjacent to the Chilkat River tidal flats we walk along is lush. It obscures adjacent Mud Bay Road, providing plenty of cover for the...Heather Lende
Is it a coincidence that I have walked down the same path nearly every day for 15 years or so, and have never seen the root holding the big rock, bigger than a bowling ball, skyward, just a few feet off the trail, until two days ago? And now I cannot miss it. Even odder, my dog-walking friend noticed it the same day -- and we even wondered if high tides could have tossed the log up. Or the wind. Or a bear. But when we investigated, it clearly has been on that spot a long, long time. There's that and then there's the news about George Edwards, who died yesterday, apparently by his own hands. Edwards lived a hardscrabble kind of life, very close to the bone, and was crippled from what, I don't know, but will learn writing his obituary. He was always so upbeat; he waved and said hello. He...Heather Lende
HAINES -- Why is it that a rickety metal Ferris wheel, which doesn’t look very big or spin very fast, is more thrilling for 4-year-old Caroline and her grandmother -- that would be me -- than the speediest high-tech theme park splash-and-roll ride? Maybe it’s the slow, herky-jerky way our painted bench seat rocks as we ride up and up and up and then over. Maybe it’s the narrow bar that’s all there is between us and eternity, it seems, or maybe it’s the unexpectedly wide bird’s-eye-view. We saw the whole fair from the top of that Ferris wheel. The roof of the big red barn with the chickens, rabbits, goats and alpacas inside in their hay- and manure-scented pens and stalls. Up high, it looked kind of small, and the brightly painted food booths could have been toy boxes. The striped top of...Heather Lende
HAINES -- Why shouldn’t my friend Christy be Dr. Phil’s personal songwriter? Because she has lived here her whole life, most of it above the family business, the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room Restaurant? (A bamboo curtain once separated the two.) Christy Tengs Fowler is so sure she’s the one for Dr. Phil that she tried to spend her life savings producing a CD of her Dr. Phil Project songs. Except she couldn’t actually save any money thanks to unexpected bills for liquor, then halibut for the fish and chips, and… She forgets what the final one was, but by then her brother had heard enough to front his “little sis” (Christy will be 60 on her next birthday) the cash to chase a dream of writing hit country songs that she’s delayed for decades. It was rekindled watching Dr. Phil’s self-help TV...Heather Lende
HAINES -- It was too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house and did nothing at all. Actually, I had a long walk in the rain with a friend who had been at a family funeral down south while Chip and I were doing the trauma-hospital thing in Seattle after his injury , so it was nice to catch up. We both agreed that 10 days away in high northern summer feels like 10 weeks, and that a month in winter feels like 10 days, but that's another story. This morning, as Chip and I woke in the living room -- he's on the window seat, I'm on the couch -- the rain pelted the metal porch roof and dripped off the bushes, and we remembered there was a wedding today. A Juneau couple chose Haines. How nice is that? I said it was too bad about the weather. Chip said, "It rained at our...Heather Lende