Today - July 30th.
It feels like July just began, but also, that August should be here.
Although, as I look out the window, it doesn't look like either month. It still reeks of April.
My alarm woke me at 6:30 AM. I stirred a bit, feeling my swollen throat gland. I was a bit frustrated not to be well yet. By 7:10 AM, I was stumbling about the bedroom, tidying up, making my bed, washing my face, and packing my backpack.
I was dressed in a just-below-the-knee length richly coloured (deep purples, golds, and greens) paisley skirt, a Dyno Jamz t-shirt, my gold and maroon striped vest, and a brown sweatshirt with a map of the world stitched on the front.
Around 7:30 AM, I went downstairs and was welcomed into the beautiful, but busy life of the family I am living with. Breakfast was homemade bread (from freshly ground wheat - this family is gold!) with butter (sorry dairy allergy) with nutritional yeast and sliced garlic. I also drank a small cup of goat milk.
For lunch, I packed up some rice, beans, and kale in a small container.
|View from the driveway.|
At 8:23 AM, I hopped on my bike and raced down the hill that I get to climb daily. It’s a pretty steep gravely road, certainly bumpy, and an exhilarating way to start the day (with arms that feel like they've been vibrated into oblivions - what's an oblivion?). 10 or so minutes later and I was in town, parking my bike at the Mountain Market. 8:34 AM and I started walking up the hill to the home of my first client, reading my Bible on the way.
9 AM - 2 PM - Client #1
|When my client squeezes my hands for balance, they turn especially yellow - this is after a minute of recovery.|
Oh how I adore this client (ok, so I adore them all). She welcomed me with a vibrant “good-morning” and verbally guided her in getting dressed. She loves to walk so we headed down the hill to the “Hungry Moose.” Once we made it to town, though, we realized she had left her purse by the door with her money. Luckily, we had all the time in the world so we walked back home, nabbed it, and headed back with a new route. At the Hungry Moose, she got her daily dose of “pretzel... cheese” and we met up with one of my bosses (I think she’s one of my bosses, I don’t know - she’s wonderful, though and certainly steps and steps above me, yeah, we'll call her a boss, but she isn't too bossy). After the walk, we went to the bank where she wrote her name backwards (I’m always impressed - that's how she does it) with a “4“ and waited for her favourite teller. After she exchanged five one-dollar bills for a five-dollar bill, we walked outside where she tried to do the same thing with the drive-through. We walked into random shops and she explored what she wished to see. Back home she made a ketchup and cheese sandwich and settled down with her iPad. Altogether, we were strolling around Haines for 3.5 hours.
I left six minutes early and ran to the post office at 1:54 PM. I had only until 2:15 PM to cross town and get to the next client. I was thrilled with a letter from a new pen pal I had not yet corresponded with, Kelsey who is currently dwelling in San Francisco. She had gone over the edges with a needle creating elaborate designs which was perfect for my next client who loves to touch things. The letter was a satisfying read and I was eager to begin the process of writing back.
From the post office I speed-walked like a champion to Mountain Market where I grabbed my bike and hopped on it, racing down the highway and cutting through the pool parking lot to arrive at the next client’s house right at 2:15 PM.
2:15 PM - 5 PM - Client #2
I enjoyed spending time with this client, catching up and talking about the fair and any new songs we knew. We moved around a bit. She took a nap and then had a snack. To end the time, she read to me, which is always fun.
Done at 5 PM, I biked back over to the post office, parked my bike, and proceeded to drift around Haines for the next six hours without much of an agenda.
I first parked myself at my work’s office to do some notes and get some writing done. A women came in and we talked a bit before I headed out.
There was supposed to be a barbecue at Elisè’s. I wanted to go, sort of. I wanted to enjoy the people but wasn’t sure if I felt social at that time. I can’t say I ever found it. I found the light brown house I thought was described but I only saw a bunch of older men on the porch - perhaps that was it, but I didn’t recognize any of them.
|See those buildings? That, in essence, is the entire town of Haines, Alaska.|
|Yarrow makes for good tea.|
I walked back down and through the parade grounds where the sun was turning the grass golden. I sat in the middle of it and worked some more on Kelsey’s letter until it rained. I kept walking to the post office and sat in there, still crafting my letter.
After signing my name, I realized I had forgotten something at the office so I started my trek back - but the trek took me by Jen’s bus (Jen lives in an ol' bright yellow school bus - specifically, a B-bus). Out of habit, I glanced in the window at saw a new face. Jen ran out and embraced me in an ever so familiar, loving Olympia-hug that swept me off my feet. I love that girl. She introduced me to her friend, Kaylin (really Katy, but I can’t seem to get myself to call her that).
We hung out in the bus and I enjoyed their company. I felt loved and a sense of belonging in Haines. With a cookstove and pot, they were set to make some tea... but were lacking tea. We walked over to the IGA and browsed their tea selection and took over the soup aisle.
Today was our dear friend Ashley’s 31st birthday and I knew just how I wanted to acknowledge it. Ashley’s first night, during the year 2012, in Haines was at the home of Andrew and I. When it came to be breakfast time, I learned of his deep love of oatmeal. He expressed how much he adored eating it and how happy he could be with a bowl of it. Since I was short[er] I’ve always preferred Snoqualmie Falls Lodge Rolled Oats and, luckily, I can find ‘em in Haines. They stick with me the longest. They taste the finest. And they smell up the house with the smell of oat-y-ness. Instant oats? A mush my body burns right through.
We made the quick trip to Olereuds where they had the oats in stock and I bought him a bag of the stuff. At the empty checkout counter, I found a blank brown bag and put his oats in it after decorating the exterior. Along our walks around Haines, I also found a “Men” restroom sign, which was perfect for Ashley, as I had decided that, at 31, you are finally a man. A small toy car was also found. We left to check out Merrick’s beautiful new mural at the Quickshop.
|Mural by Merrick.|
Rumour (correct rumour) had it that there would be a bonfire tonight, in honour of Ashley, so we set out to see if it had began - nope, no bonfire. At that point, I decided it was time to go home. Eh, go home?
On the bike ride down the highway, I realized I still wanted to get Ashley his oats. I called him and he was out having dinner at a friends, but he said he would be home within a couple of hours. Since all I was going to do at home, anyways, was write letters, I decided to make my way over to Ashely, Bryce, Tyler, and Andrew’s house.
I got to the house and only Bryce was there. Although my intentions were to write a letter, I never got around it it. We got to talking and thinking and processing and reflecting on the life that Haines has given us. The topics weren’t necessarily the light fluffy conversations that many guides seem to want and it was refreshing. Not saying I was glad that the things we talked about had to be, but at least they were acknowledged.
Warning: The following paragraph is by no means articulate. More vague and scatterbrained than anything else. I wouldn’t even bother reading it. One of the things we talked about I could really relate to - the idea of having an problem and comparing it to a wound and, well, you’ve got this wound, often infected, and, in life, we often just put bandaids on it - never cleaning it or giving it time to heal. It’s like when there is something in life that just isn’t right, maybe a way you need to grow or some aspect of your personality or a way of life. You might try and fix it by temporary means , but, in reality, those are all little momentary feel-betters that can’t last and often make things worst. You have to live through the experience. For me, I had to go through the pain, stretching, and growth in order to feel like myself again and I needed to figure it out without other human beings or relying solely on my own strength. Not sure that that made sense. I’m being pretty vague.
|Upside-down birthday hug from Andrew to Ashley... gone horizontal.|
It was time for us to go Home (not home, home - Home is a beach where bonfires, that are really beachfires, are held). One person left and asked if I was coming - I told them I was, just a few minutes after them, though. I didn’t want one-on-one time with this person. Then, Rosemary and Alan were leaving and I was excited to get to know them. Oh! What fine biking company I was in! I enjoyed their company extensively and was grateful to be able to bike the miles Home with them. On the way over, we stopped at the Quickshop for ice cream (what’s a birthday without ice cream?) and by some bushes by the water. There was a man with his tent, hiding within. The man, known by them as Stephen, joined us and I was pleased to get to know him.
We arrived at Home and I felt glad I had come. I saw faces I had encountered at the fair nad it felt good to reconnect with the souls behind them. It was an international crowd with folks from Australia, Belgian, Spain... ok, so only three other nationalities beyond American and Canadian. We had people who had just arrived and a man who had been in Haines since 1985.
Mid-conversation, even though it was a good conversation, I felt my instincts kick in that now was the time to go. The other night, I felt it was time to go. It took me a bit to react, but I packed my backpack and headed back.. but then I hesitated and stood on a bench to overlook the crowd. What a mistake. My entire night took on a new horrible flavour and dissatisfaction nearly penetrated all of the memories I had built up that day. Luckily, I was able to counter that pretty well. Anyways, tonight I had a similar feeling, the feeling of, “Margaret, leave - now.” The tide was coming in so folks would beheading out soon.
Normally I would leave without a goodbye, and I intended to, but I realized that I wouldn’t encounter the lasses from Australia for quite some time and I wanted their names. So they got the goodbye of the night and then I was able to slip away. As I marched up the hill to the road, I found myself in the company of four others. But, when it came to biking the 2-3 miles home, I was on my ownsome.
As I frequently do on late night bike rides, I gave Megan a call and she answered. I love her company as I get from Point A to Point B - she’s some of the finest company I’ve got. We debriefed our days, prepared for the future, and discussed her 26th birthday which had occured the day before. It wasn’t until the last 4 minutes that my phone died - I think as I said Tucker Cholvin’s name.
I trudged up the windy driveway and, immediately, Trudy, our dog, sounded out a series of alert barks. And she kept barking. And howling. And wailing. Especially as I got nearer. Yes, she woke up part of the house. I am blessed to live with such wonderful people, though, who didn’t make me feel guilty in the least for the late arrival that woke them up (due to Trudy - normally I can slip in pretty silently).
The hill got me a bit sweaty and I was glad to get off my sweatshirt and raincoat. I ended the day as I started it, by brushing my teeth with fennel toothpaste and washing my face. In went the night guard for my poor grindy teeth. I stripped down and enjoyed one of my favourite things about having my own space - I get to be naked. With the window wide open, the cool air came in and cooled my bare body down and I silenced my mind, just paying attention to that feeling. When I felt cool enough, I threw on my holey grey whale Alaska shirt and wrote some words out on Edison, the Netbook (sorry Tesla), until sleeping seemed like the right thing to do.
And that is what a Monday can be in Haines.