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Monday, February 22, 2010


I haven't done much since my last post. I thought alot. I wrote some notes down. Maybe later today I will share them with you all. I find that this blog is a mixture of things. Of my thoughts. Of my thought process. And of my life.

Today I will give you a snapshot of one of my days.

My other half works all week. Then he takes most of the weekend to check traps or to hunt. Sometimes he takes the hours after work also to check traps and to hunt. So I rarely get to spend time with him during the winter. I am a bit of a wuss you see. I refuse to go out with him into the wilderness when it's so cold that you can spit and it will freeze before it hits the ground. So during the deep winter, I rarely see him besides the normal meals and working on skins or repairing gear. This weekend he gave me a day. Sunday. I told him since it was warm enough that we should go for a ride. Go down south to see the trees, make some tea. In no time flat we were ready to go, and we were lucky to have people come with us! Three awesome women. One of which was the elder that showed me how to cut and sew isigviks (ruffs). We left while it was warm and overcast. The mountains pulled the fog around them like a warm blanket. Sounds were muffled. Ptarmigan would surprise us once in a while, exploding from bushes, and because of the weather they would "suddenly" appear and dive across our vision like white feathered missiles. I wore my heavy gear. And I had to be careful not to sweat because it was quite warm.

Here am I in my gear. They insisted I take pictures of myself. I was embarrassed to see how GIGANTIC my ruff was. It was a gift from my Fiance. A luxurious Russian raccoon pelt. I briefly thought about taking it off and thinning it, but it IS extremely warm and efficient at keeping the cold at bay. As you can see, my parka is not a very feminine one. In fact it looks exactly like my other half's parka. No trim, no pretty, except for the occasional blood or oil stain that won't come off. This parka is also used as the "extra" parka, so when Ben takes younger guys out hunting they borrow it. I do not think they would appreciate it if I added some pretty to it.

Here is the elder that has taught me so much. I want to be like her when I grow up.

A couple of hours ride later we made it to the trees, built a fire and made tea. We shared a meal of raw frozen caribou, muktuk (whale skin and blubber), crackers, and silly stories of younger days. I learned about this area, about whose cabins were there, what they use the area for, and names of places. While we chatted a huge hawk of some sort flitted from tree to tree. Looking for rabbit or ptarmigan I'm sure. The fog turned to a light snow. I noticed our food bag filling with powdered snow. The elder of course had pulled out a plastic cover and placed it over her bag. Now I know to always carry plastic. And then we went looking for Inupiaq cough drops.....
I followed them up a steep and heavily snow covered hill. Our steps were slow. She pointed at a certain bush. Showed me what to look for when I need a handle for a scraper. I learned what plants will dye a skin red.
When she found a good tree she took out her hatchet and chopped strips of the bark. Then she carefully picked the dark outer bark off. You chew the thin white layer underneath like gum, it helps with coughing. She chatted about other uses of the these particular trees sap. I tried my best to burn all that knowledge into my brain. Today I was a very, very lucky girl.

My mother died when I was young. I have vague memories of her showing me plants and their uses. Often I will remember what the plants looked like, but not their names. So this was an especially wonderful treat for me. The two women talked and pointed. Shared stories about how they would spend hours looking for sap and trees. It felt like a balm for a wound I did not know existed.....


  1. Beautiful!! I love to read your stories.

  2. i love your posts. i just made a much-too-brief trip home for a job-in-the-city interview and your blog is a lovely reminder of the sorts of things i miss most...

    i can't tell if your parka has a pocket or not. if it does, and you wanted some pretty, maybe you could invent removable trim with velcro/buttons, then the young men borrowing it wouldn't feel awkward and you'd have more options. the elders' parkas are beautiful, i love the trim on the brown one and the green one is such an awesome color.

    your ruff is fabulous btw.

  3. great story...i hope you post more snapshots!