Where to start... it's hard to know, really. On Thursday, we got the high tunnel signed off. That means, for all intensive purposes, it is done. Of course, it's really just the beginning. I see that.
A week ago, after some pretty intensive time finishing up little pieces like putting tape over all the joints so there are no rough edges and finishing up the last rafters, I invited some people over to help pull the cover. It's amazing how nervous I was about this piece of the puzzle - somehow the vision of a crew of my friends being picked up by the wind and flying away was too scary for me... by Friday I was in a full-fledged tizzy, focusing all over the place on a myriad of minute details rather than just letting things unfold as they would. But in the end, it all worked out wonderfully. I had to unfold the plastic completely the day before to make sure it was the right size and then bunched it back up on the forested side of the tunnel. Then I put tennis balls in the plastic and looped it back over them, then tied rope which I had thrown over the tunnel around the tennis ball to create a spot I could pull from without cutting a hole in the plastic. Then it was just a matter of getting everyone together, and pulling. In hindsight, I would have put balls and ropes on the other side, too - then once the plastic was up it would have been very easy to tie it off and not worry about it flying up into the air with the wind gusts (there were some doozies - we didn't choose the calmest day, that's for sure.) Anyway, the plastic had to be coaxed in a few places, but mostly it went over very well. It was tricky to get it straight and tight, but in the end, we managed pretty well. I was thrilled. There was one moment when I realized Liam was holding down one part of the tunnel - the windiest part - and I thought, wow - it wouldn't take much for him to be airborn - but luckily that didn't happen, and life went on unscathed.
It took us three hours, with the help of Elaine Grabowski, Marylou Burton, Warren, Andrei, Mike, Andrew and the kids, of course. Later that afternoon, we got one end wall mostly finished and the other one started, and by Thursday, we had the whole thing done. Amazing. Mike has been putting in some pretty long hours, and my feeling of gratitude to him is so great. I don't know what I was thinking when I signed up for this - what I thought I would have done had Mike not dedicated most of his winter to this project for me - and Andrew, too - who has spent many a Sunday toiling on this metal structure. I am so lucky to have people around me who are willing to help, and I hope the time comes when I can reciprocate that. I trust it will. There's something about the whole experience — about life, really - that tells me I'm headed in the right direction, for the most part.
So the tunnel is up. In my house, there are starts everywhere. I mean everywhere. I created a map of my tunnel and what I want to put in it using an online program, and it allowed me to see in technicolor how much of everything I needed and when I needed to plant it and how much I could fit in a row, etc. Then I went to work planting all the starts I would need. Dozens of zucchini, squash, pumpkins, herbs, flowers, the list is endless. I am in awe. There is so much to do. Luckily, my first Wwoofer arrives today, so we'll begin muddling through this together. And there is still a couple feet of snow in the high tunnel, so it will be a while till we can plant. Melt, baby, melt.
The rest of life is going well. I think the whole family is pretty ready for school to be over, for summer to start. It is hard to get to bed on time because of the daylight. It just doesn't seem right to be going to bed when the sun is still blazing. Mornings are muddy. The snow is soft and postholing is inevitable. There's just so much snow - on a normal year, I think the snow would be gone. But this year, it's going to take a couple more weeks.
IN other news: I got the best compliment of my professional life yesterday. I wrote a story this week about Caroline Cannon, who won a big award for her environmental work speaking up for her village of Point Hope in the Arctic. Interviewing her was both inspiring and challenging, and I wrote the story late at night on Tuesday... having delayed as long as I could. But as I sat down to write, the way to write it hit me like a bolt. And I was so thrilled, really happy with the story, and onto the page it went. Yesterday, I got this comment from a reader: "I really want to thank you for making the story of Carline Cannon. She is a special woman working hard for our people and you gave life and spirit in your story about the importance of our traditional and cultural uses. We cannot thank you enough for this special story. She was the light but the touch of the heart was yours. We have goodness with this story that will continue to spread goodness." I shared this with Craig, and he got it the same way I did - this was a compliment that substantiates what I'm trying to do with my professional life - help others tell their story in a meaningful way that captures their essence. I am touched. I am inspired to do more. And it tells me again, that I'm doing good things with my life, that these are things I should be doing.
This weekend I spent time in Anchorage at the Alaska Press Club conference, which is always inspiring. I got to meet Neal Conan, and hear the stories of big reporters from around the country. It is always fun and fairly humbling. But one of the most fun things about the trip, actually, was hanging around with Sila, my bosses daughter. She is this light of silly fun and I saw how great that is. I miss my kids, and I'm eager to spend more time with them this summer. They are so amazing, and children, in general, are such a wonderful source of joy. They are truly living in the moment. They are looking for experience and knowledge and energy. They are learning, and soaking in the world around them. We are just a gentle hand of guidance, but what a wonderful thing to have that opportunity. I'm looking forward to Craig's new granddaughter to be in the neighborhood. What a rich life.
I'm still working my way through the learning curve of practicing meditation. Sometimes it seems silly. Sometimes it is very productive. Sometimes it is scary. Sometimes it just hurts. But mostly, it draws me back. I believe there is much to learn. I believe it will teach me everything I am willing to let it. I'm so lucky I found it or it found me, or whatever.