A cabin where Marnie Rasmussen and Libby Silva were stuck for five days after the Haines Highway closed during a snow storm. Photo courtesy of Libby Silva.

Marnie Rasmussen welcomed college friend Libby Silva for what was supposed to be a 10-day trip to Haines that went a bit awry. The two traveled to Whitehorse on Monday, Dec. 11 for a trip to Takhini Hot Springs and a night at a cabin at Marsh Lake. On Tuesday morning as they prepared for the five-hour drive back, they started to hear concerns about the weather. “People were like ‘You guys are from Haines? You’re not driving back,'” said Silva. They decided to forge ahead to Haines Junction, where they found barricades blocking the highway to the border. Luckily, they were able to stay with family friends of Rasmussen’s. A one-night delay turned into two, which ultimately turned into five. The four played “a lot of cards” (Liverpool rummy, for the record). They also visited the local library, and the pub, where Silva got her first taste of poutine during her first visit to Canada. “It just forced us to deal with not having service and not knowing when we were gonna get home, and enjoying the junction for what it is. It was a cultural experience,” said Silva. On Saturday, authorities organized a pilot car to lead a convoy of about 15 cars plus a half-dozen semis over the border, keeping speeds at a cool 70 kilometers per hour. Still, she said she regretted missing out on the quotidian charms of Haines, like tai chi at the Chilkat Center, cross-country skiing, and swimming at the pool.

Dozens of performers and listeners came to a weekend performance of portions of The Messiah, a 1741 English-language oratoria by composer George Frideric Handel. More than a dozen singers performed, plus soloists Matt DavisDylan PalmieriStephanie Smith and Jenn HughesNancy Nash organized the event, as well as the two rehearsals beforehand, along with Lucinda Boyce. She also played the piano accompaniment, which she described as “extremely difficult.” “I practiced that score day and night,” Nash said. “I slept better than I have for a long time (after the performance). I was very happy with how I played.” Nash said she still had the melodies stuck in her head two days later. “I’m still humming those going on my walks,” she said. Nash performed the oratoria in her hometown of Bismarck, N.D. as a child and in Bolivia.

Glacier Bears basketballers got their first taste of the Southeast regional competition at a tournament at the school gym last weekend. The girls swept through their tournament to finish with a clean 4-0 record. Coach Coleman Stanford highlighted Gracie Stickler’s performance. “Sometimes it looked like she would receive the ball and make her move and bodies would just scatter!” he wrote in an email. “When she decides she’s going to the basket, not much gets in her way!” He said the leadership from upperclassmen was exceptional throughout the tournament. Stanford counted 13 rebounds in one game from Raven Hotch, and highlighted the defensive duo of Ari’el Godinez Long and Ashlyn Ganey.

The boys team started off with what coach James Hart called a “blowout” against Thunder Mountain High School’s JV team. “They’re a well-coached team, very disciplined, they blew us out a little bit. They were more composed than we were,” said Hart. The team went on to beat Juneau-Douglas in two games, and narrowly lose to Skagway. In the final game, the team faced Thunder Mountain again, and nearly bounced back to beat them. “It went really well. We found a lot of growth in some areas. I learned they’re a strong group. They didn’t give up,” said Hart. He singled out JC Davis, a sophomore guard, who led the team in scoring and on defense both days. “It was really impressive to see the way he was moving with intention,” said Hart. Hart also said Kyan Sweet, playing off the bench at the end of a game against Juneau-Douglas, showed strong leadership to hold off their opponents. The team hopes to host an alumni game on Saturday, Dec. 23.

Donna Catotti returned from a second trip to New York City and Philadelphia in as many months. This time she attended an art show reception where her painting “On the Edge of Time” was displayed at the Salmagundi Club, one of New York City’s oldest art establishments. The same piece, shown in last summer’s Southeast fair, was also just announced as a finalist in the Portrait Society of America’s Members Only Show in the landscape category. In Swarthmore, a town near Philadelphia, she stayed with husband Rob Goldberg’s sister, Susan Goldberg, while putting finishing touches on a figurative sculpture titled “Hot Summer Day” which she left at Laran Bronze to be cast. John Svenson is doing the two glass pieces that are part of the finished artwork. It will be assembled in Haines on a black marble base. Catotti said it could be ready for next year’s fair.

About 15 people participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count, organized around the world by the Audubon Society. The count is meant to bring citizen data together to paint a picture of the composition and number of birds in an area. Stacie Evans, a biologist with Takshanuk Watershed Council, put on the event after the usual organizer Dan Egolf had to step down at the last minute. Fewer people than normal participated but there were a lot of birds. Evans said she counted 541 birds as she traveled a predetermined route along Sawmill Road and Mud Bay. “Folks are seeing large flocks of redpolls, crossbills and pine siskins,” said Evans. “I wouldn’t call this unusual, but it’s notable.”