What an exciting and beautiful week for two relatives from London and Gosia’s aunt from Warsaw to visit us. Their big dream was to see an aurora and the skies over Fairbanks. Late night Monday and early Tuesday morning appeared an aurora shade of green I only have seen in the seas off Hawaii.

Eva, one of the London visitors, likes to smoke and is under orders to do it outside because I am notorious for nagging folks to quit the habit. She struck up a friendship with a neighbor on our block, who tipped her off that this was likely to be an active time for auroras.

Eva was ebullient after we indulged in aurora ogling and all trooped back to the kitchen. “I now have my Alaska dream,” she said. “You see, Hank, you were wrong. Sometimes good things come from smoking.”

Eva, who has been stopped on the street by people who mistook her for Anjelica Houston, has never met a stranger she didn’t like. I, on the other hand, rarely approach strangers except when it’s my job as a journalist.

Gosia and I took the relatives to one of our favorite Fairbanks haunts, the Museum of the North, on Saturday. Gosia and the visitors separated from me. They wanted to take in the entire museum. I, on the other hand, am the consummate fusspot at museums, savoring every morsel of every exhibit, memorizing all the great knowledge on placards. Instead of the whole pie, I like my museum adventure in dainty slices.

At one point I had no idea where my wife and relatives were. I was in front of a glass case, totally smitten by Haida argillite carvings. I read a card that said the number of Alaska Native craftsmen still immortalizing animals, mythical spirits, and persons in soft black stone is dwindling. I was in a trance, the way James Thurber’s Walter Mitty always spaced out, wondering how I could find one of these argillite carvers to observe their carving technique.

That’s when Gosia tapped me on the shoulder, accompanied by a tall man with striking features and a full head of mostly white hairl he said on introduction, “Hi, Hank, I’m Gary Schikora.”

It turns out Gary had been showing the museum to two Australian friends of his from his youth. Like Eva, Gary hasn’t a shy bone in his body, and he had introduced himself and the ladies from Oz to Gosia, Eva and Aunt Sabina.

Gary and his friends wanted to know what language they were speaking.

“Polish,” they told him. That led Gosia to inform him we were now Fairbanks residents.

The encounter confirms my unshaken belief that in Fairbanks the degree of separation from one person to the next is very small. If I tell a secret to a person on Steele Creek one day, the next day half of Ester knows the secret.

Anyhow, Gary told me that he was a friend of Daily News-Miner Former publisher Chuck Gray. “I helped Chuck’s father build a cabin when I was young,” Gary said.

And just like that, Gosia and I made a new Fairbanks friend.

Sinner: This week it is our reporter from Indiana, Carter DeJong. First, he had the misfortune of putting his feet on the desk and toppling up backwards in his chair. The clamor brought half the staff to his embarrassed side.

“I won’t do that again,” Carter said.

Good thing, Carter. The big boom just outside my office nearly gave me a heart attack.

That instant I transferred my 10-month Cheechako badge over to Carter. Right after he graduated from Indiana University, Carter drove to Alaska with his grandfather, a former Netherlands citizen, On Sunday, Carter enjoyed a leisurely drive on Badger Road when a big moose cow loomed and hit him square. His big SUV, crumbled and part of the moose went right through the windshield. The poor beast shattered its front legs, and an Alaska trooper responded quickly to end its pain. A couple coming back from church stopped to make sure Carter was OK and then picked shards of glass out of his face.

Winner: That also is our intrepid News-Miner reporter Carter who walked away shaken and stirred but unhurt from the collision. Carter must have brought along his guardian angel from Bloomington, Indiana.

“I didn’t hit the moose,” Carter told his insurance agent. “The moose literally hit me.”

I shudder to think of that moose hitting Gosia’s tiny Jeep Renegade. No moose is good news.