Thursday, August 7, 2008
Abby wanted to take me all the way to the end of town, so I appeared at her door at 9 a.m. this morning and she, the puppy Princess and I set off at a brisk clip into the woods. I have learned to read the side of the road for signs of bears. A crushed patch of grass usually means a resting spot, and of course there are the tracks themselves. The beach is covered with them. This morning, no one but birds disturbed our way. The skies are alive with black capped chickadees. At the end of the road a bridge crossed the creek. Beyond the bridge the hunting trails begin. I’ve now toured every inch of the village from the berry patches at the end of the single runway to the hill at the end of the road. But to say that is to say nothing. I could go on exploring this country for years and still be surprised by it, for the light never shines the same way twice, the river is sometimes swift, sometimes slow, sometimes mirrorlike, sometimes opaque. The energy of the village rises and falls. Nothing is routine. You have to be in a larger, more machine driven world for things to become routine. Not once, in four weeks in Grayling, have I heard the phrase “hard wired.” It would never occur to anyone to compare themselves with a computer.
The river is now so high from the flooding near Fairbanks that the northern part of the beach is almost entirely under water. We walked it with the children this morning. What was once a wide gravel walkway is now narrow and choked with driftwood. Angelina and Skyler settled down to play a pretend game of fishing, as they caught small pieces drifting by on the gentle current, and threw back the ones they decided were bad. Dallas the puppy finally befriended me and after a splendid day and night of freedom, white dog is now safely back at home.
Tomorrow is Friday. It will be my last formal day with the children. Children were the great work of the church when it first came to the Interior. In the old days, many of the missionaries maintained a genteel distance from village lifeways, but they embraced the little ones. I can think of no better reason to travel over 4,000 miles from home.
One of the Girls and Me