My neighbor Betty has moved to Haines Assisted Living, and when I visit her there, she asks “What’s the news on Mud Bay Road today?” Yesterday I told her a bear was on my daughter’s deck next door at 7:00 am. “Black bear?”  no, a brownie,  I said and it was big (of course any bear on the deck at dawn is huge), and then I tell her it  also tore a branch off my big mountain ash tree, the one right next to the window seat, but didn’t seem to like the red berries. I said I would put a radio on the porch at night, turned low, and keep the light on all night too. “Hang something white in the branches,” Betty, an old bear hand, said. “A dish towel is good. The wind blows it and they don’t like that at all.” I asked if bears would destroy my lovely mountain ash tree, and she said they might do some more damage. “And if they do, well there’s not much you can do. They are bears, and bears do what they want.”

Last night there were no bears, and today there is fresh snow on the mountains, and I’m off to Juneau and then all the way to NY for my aunt’s 90th birthday party on Saturday. I’m traveling with my sister and she’s an overnight red-eye kind of gal, and bought her tickets first, so there you have it. Wish me luck. I remain a wiggy traveler, but you know, it is good to go, and especially to celebrate the living and family and autumn on my dad’s farm, and here too, reminding me that nothing is forever, and to keep my elders close.