By Heidi Ritter
For The Cordova Times
It was a rainy ferry ride that arrived at 1 a.m. in July 2017 that brought my family here. So much was uncertain, but we knew this place was beautiful, even in all its gloomy glory. As the clouds lifted gradually over a week’s time, the majestic mountains introduced themselves. When the sun finally came out, the teal blue waters of Lake Eyak and the sound won me over.
Over the next three years, Alaska decided to show this Michigan girl its reverence. First, we saw hurricane force winds whip through hard enough to rip our roof off. And it literally did! Then we had a great quake in the night and the tsunami scare that had a bunch of newbie Coastie wives and their kids heading for the hills (the Ski Hill, to be exact) at midnight in the slickest new fallen snow.
Following that eventful winter, we had the Bearpocalypse of 2018! I nearly bumped the butt of a black bear while I opened my front door one morning and that was enough of that. A government shutdown came and went. Then we lost the ferry last September. In addition to all the truly countless, noteworthy events, boy have we seen the rain!
Now we round out our time here with a worldwide pandemic. How does Murphy’s Law go again?!
Cordova is unique in so very many ways, but one thing is for sure. Cordova is tough, but tender. Sturdy, steadfast and ready to fight, but just as caring and eager to help someone up when they need a hand. I have felt like I stepped back in time — finding ways to sustain my family with the help of this village. Trading goods and services like my grandparents’ generation used to. Finding friends who treated us like kin, when God only knows how many miles we are from my families and the places we used to call home.
Cordovans adopt us Coastie families passing through, year after year, and support us with friendship and inclusion while we complete a short chapter of our story. This particular chapter for my family has been the one of the most turbulent, but I maintain that I have no regrets. The lessons I have learned here have changed me forever, and, for that, I am grateful.
This was not how we planned to end our time here. Hunkering down at home until the day we fly away leaves me disheartened. I looked forward to a few celebratory last meals with friends while I take in those classic Cordova views. I needed farewell hugs at the grocery store in these final days. This isn’t what any of us expected to happen.
Since I can’t fully experience my final time here, I wanted to use words to attempt to find my closure. I wanted to thank you. You are proud folks, with good reason to be. I know the current times and future holds struggles for Cordova, but you have the tenacity, patience, and ingenuity to work through it. I know you know this place is special, but I need you to know I experienced it, even just for three short years. I will carry this truly unique place and its people in my heart as I continue on life’s winding road. Thank you for everything and God bless you, Cordova!