I live, for the time being, in the small Native village of Pedro Bay, Alaska. There are probably 40 or so people here with me, and as it is October, these are the ones who live here year-round. Tomorrow, the Friday before Halloween, there will be a costume party and cake-walk at the Dena’ina School, and it will be, most likely, the last event held there before it closes on November 19.
Of the 40 or so people in Pedro, perhaps half, or less than half, will attend the event. This is not unusual for winter months. During the summer though, things are different. During the summer the daylight hours stretch on and it seems, no matter how long the day is, there is always something else to do, something else to be done, another boat ride to take, more fish to put up, more wood to cut for the smokehouse.
During the summer there seems to be no time for worrying about school closures or airline rates, for the Sand Beach is ready for a bonfire and the bears at the pond by the airstrip are putting on a sublime show.
Now it is fall, early winter even, and the color that ran so smartly through our days is hibernating most assuredly and those green tones have wrapped themselves well into the hearts of the birch and the willow. We see green now only in the tinges of spruce needles and in the new paint on the exterior of the council building. Otherwise, sunsets get the most of it, as do the lines along the upper edge of Pedro Mountain or Big Hill.
Tonight John plays the guitar we bought in a little shop in Spoleto, Italy when we were there last spring. Claire has named it Sebastian. I write, while he plays. Claire is picking out her outfit for school pictures tomorrow–the second-to-last event before it closes November 19.
We will dress up tomorrow. We will walk when the music sings walk and we will stop to determine if the two-layer buttercream is ours…or if will go home with one of the 20 neighbors. We will laugh. And when we head for home we will look up, at the many million lights above our heads and remember the months we spent filling up our lives, unable to see the stars for the many hours of light.