Dispatches from small-town U.S.A. (pop: 2,400, traffic lights: 0, avg. temp: cold) by the local writer of obits and other matters of social interest.
Hailing originally from the East Coast of the lower 48, Lende has spent his last two decades at home in the village of Haines, in the Chilkat Valley of the southeast tail of our northernmost state. There, she tends to husband Chip, proprietor of the lumberyard, their five children, and assorted neighbors and animals. Travel out of Haines, which folks are loath to do, is possible only by intermittent ferry or frightening flights in small aircraft. People die young there, whether flying, fishing at sea or hunting. Or they live to be funny old characters. At the end, whether young or old, whether they led good lives or not, all are accorded Lende’s respectful death notices. In addition to writing for the local paper of choice, she provides commentary for public radio, runs for the school board, attends fund-raising events and auctions to benefit townsfolk, takes a weekend trip to Vancouver and travels to Bulgaria to adopt a daughter. She participates in community theater, spots a possible spaceship and dances to a Cajun band from Juneau. There’s also hunting above the tree line and flying above the glaciers. Interspersed throughout the text are extracts from “Duly Noted,” Lende’s journalistic reports of the quotidian events of Haines. Mostly, though, she concerns herself with family and community in the Last Frontier State—and, one might say, everywhere else, too. Written with ease and empathy, this is both about maintaining a household in Alaska and about being at home in the world. Regarding nature, life and death, it’s an agreeable work about living in a pretty place, likely to increase tourism, if not emigration, to Haines, Alaska.
Homespun warmth in a cold climate.