IT’S THE FIRST WEEKEND IN JUNE and the fifth anniversary of my landing on the shores of Kachemak Bay. It wasn’t literally the beach, but close to it, at the Homer airport, which is delightfully small. I thought about kissing the ground, but refrained, as the Alaska Hambricks were gathered to meet me.

I was an immigrant from the Southeast, and for a going-away present had given myself a first-class, one-way ticket to Anchorage, which I thought I deserved for several reasons, which I won’t go into here. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, on a value scale of 1 to 10, first class is a 5, and heated wash cloths doled out with tongs are ridiculous. It’s a long damn trip from Atlanta, no matter how semi-comfortable you are.

AnchorageAirport moose to Homer is a short trip. Once, when I expressed concern about the safety of the small planes that fly here, my Alaska son, Matt, said, “Just look at it this way, Mom. However it turns out, it’s quick.” Seating is completely egalitarian: one cabin about the size of a large passenger van, no assigned seats, and everyone gets a complimentary fruit juice or water, plus a homemade cookie–oatmeal-raisin, chocolate chip, or peanut butter. The selection varies, but never disappoints.

By the time the flight attendant whips through safety instructions without stopping for a breath, serves refreshments, circles back to collect juice boxes and cookie wrappers, the wunderkind pilots (there are two) have whisked you over Cook Inlet and the mountains and lakes of the Kenai Peninsula and planted you on the tarmac in Homer. Sometimes the co-pilot doubles as the flight attendant, but I don’t think any of the flight crew bake the cookies. That might be assigned to the ticket counter person who also serves as the gate person when it’s time to board.

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packingcrateWHEN I ARRIVED IN THE LAST FRONTIER, my worldly possessions, except what I gave away or sold and wish I hadn’t, were still traveling cross continent by truck to be loaded onto a barge in Washington, then hauled down to Homer. Some things I mailed to myself, such as important documents and spices, because for some reason I thought the movers wouldn’t pack them, like they were contraband, and I didn’t want to buy all new when I got to Alaska. As if I’m a gourmet cook and bought them in exotic bazaars instead of Publix. As if the movers would refuse to pack the garbage if I asked.


For about a week, I bunked out East End Road at the resident Hambricks’ house, then moved to an apartment in town when my shipment arrived. I unpacked everything except the stained glass piece my brother-in-law crated for me. Then, 14 months later, my sister Joy, who’s named that for good reason, helped me pack everything in boxes from the Grog Shop, load a U-Haul truck, and move down the hill and around the corner to this house, which Matt built between March and August of that year. After Joy went back to Atlanta to rest from her Alaska vacation, I unpacked the stained glass and hung it in an east window of the living room.

This house is nearly twice the size of my condo in Atlanta, and I have accumulated furniture and lamps to replace what I sold or gave away and wish I hadn’t. Speaking of lamps, I bought a “happy light” to ward off S.A.D.D. during the dark winter months. I used it the first two winters, that would be 2103 and 2014, because I was afraid not to. I didn’t use it the third winter even though I dug it out of the closet and set it on top of my desk. I put it back in the closet and forgot about it until I was seized with a decluttering fit a few weeks ago. It’s in a heap of things I intend to sell or give away with nearly complete confidence that I won’t wish I hadn’t.

This sign was on the house my departed husband and I had in the northwest Georgia mountains. I discovered it during that minimizing frenzy and hung it on the deck. I’ve kept it through numerous downsizing moves. I’m mighty glad I did.