Monday, July 21, 2008


Here’s a picture of me and one of the chldren, lest you think I am making this up.

Haunted houses are quite the conversation piece. Having myself seen ghosts in Alaska, I’m hardly surprised, but of course some haunts are better than others. The red and yellow house is one of the better ones. I heard its story from three different kids. There was a pair of shoes that walked downstairs by themselves, and, in one version, actually landed on someone. This was a much cooler kind of visitation than the usual old grandfather who was nostalgic for his place by the fire.

Green gold light streamed through the birch leaves this morning. It was delicious to have the sun back. A cold wind was blowing, but a good walk took care of that. In a town that tends to rise around noon, I was surprised to see ATV’s out and about at 7:30. I attributed it to a burst of industry, but when Sue arrived at work, I got the real reason. The Tenana had arrived, towing a barge of heavy supplies. The shallow draught boats are able to pull very close to the bank. Offloading continued until lunchtime.

The Tenana is operated by Crowley Maritime, an old San Francisco company that at one time ran the Red and White Fleet. Members of the Crowley family went to our church back during the 1980's. When David developed Leukemia at the age of 10, I gave blood. I've preached several sermons about him, how having my blood in his veins joined us somehow. He didn’t make it, but down at the bank of the Yukon this morning I said a prayer for him. I imagined him, still ten, standing with me and looking with pride at his dad’s boat. As I said, haunting is not uncommon in the region.

After watching the barge for awhile, I set out towards the airport. I didn’t get far before my five year old friend appeared with her own plans for my morning. Day camp started this afternoon. We began with five minutes of meditation (which these guys do better than my own students, although they are so quiet that they can steal cookies during deep breathing without my hearing a thing!), half a Bible story and lots and lots of wild games: musical chairs, rock skipping, bubble blowing and hide and seek. The group started out as five and grew as the afternoon progressed. At one point, we had close to fifteen children between the ages of five and twelve. Later in the week I will start working with a woman to organize a more formal program to help them transition back to school, but for now we’re playing. I learn a lot when I play with people. As an educator, I am far more interested in helping people thrive in their world than I am in fulfilling standards. Wisdom is wisdom, and here it has much to do with wildness. Being wild is not the same as being out of control. At its best, it is beautifully disciplined, but as any mama bear knows, it must be taught.

At the end of an afternoon in nature, I chanced to read a government flier which offered training for Native Alaskans so that they might build a “sustainable” economy by investing in housing development and leverage. It was just incongruous. Debt a sustainable economy? What? This economy is perfectly sustainable as long as “investors” don’t come and plunder it. OK. You knew I had to rant.

At 7 o'clock, four more girls came over and we went down to the bridge where a couple of boys were shooting air rifles at unsuspecting grayling. Others were fishing with poles and showing off as only preadolescent boys can. Leaving them, we went off to climb trees and visit the bank to look for agates. We tried to play pick me up basketball, but someone had run off with the ball. So we sat and told jokes instead.

We're plotting heavy snacks for tomorrow.

It’s been a good day.

1 comment:

Stacey Grossman said...

Hi Rev Carol!

Rev Stace here, loving traveling to Grayling with you! I spent a day in Stockton on Saturday, and learned about an amazingly different place only two hours from where we live! Keep the pics and wonderful reflections coming!