View of caribou off the Denali Highway on our way home.

Yesterday, our first day back after some travel, we weeded the garden of a surprising amount of green grass, and protected our little 4′ x 8′ raised bed with vole-defying plastic sheeting. We planted just a few of our vegetable seeds, in the hope that our mild weather will continue and allow the germinating seeds to take advantage of the long hours of sunshine we now enjoy. The night darkens not long before midnight now, and when I roused in morning’s light today, the clock read 4:28. When we finally got up it was snowing.

We had just one full day at home, but managed to fix up and plant our little vegetable garden.

I left for a visit to San Francisco and Helena in mid-April, a final ride on the snow machine to my car. Returning, I found a new world emerging from under the snow. The new sounds are as striking as the sights: birdsong and mating calls from all sorts of birds I don’t recognize; even the ravens have a new call that sounds like a drop hitting a water-filled bucket. Muck slurps from my boots, buzzing flies swarm, and the outhouse sounds more, well, liquid. I was relieved to see the river still has its sheath of ice, so I haven’t missed the drama of break-up that I’ve heard so much about.

I’d like to stay and watch each day’s evolution, but we are headed to Anchorage soon on a journey we hadn’t planned. Gary’s recent CT scan, routine follow-up from the sarcoma he had a couple of years ago, showed a spot on his pancreas, a tumor. The tumor will be removed, together with his spleen, and only then will we learn whether it is cancerous.

Gary, as we neared home after skiing down the river this spring.

Cocooning with Gary through the winter here, I have felt protected, safe, untouchable. But life is inherently dangerous; it must be so. What lies outside the cocoon is not yet clear. But as we emerge we will endeavor to face it with strength nourished by the love and beauty we have found together, and by your good thoughts and prayers.

I will keep you posted.