A lifestyle blog about life and living in Southeast, Alaska.
Just look around
November 16, 2016
A tourist approached my son Charlie and I a few summers ago, we were eating ice cream outside a former cafe called the Hungry Moose. He had traveled to Haines via a large weekly cruise ship that holds 2,000 + people, He said, "Why do you live here? I mean, what is there to do?" His smug tone immediately had me thinking that he was from a big city and he was expecting to be "entertained" as soon as he made his way through every port in Southeast Alaska. The sun was shining, it was maybe 65 degrees out, a beautiful bluebird day in Haines. It really doesn't get any better than that. I just simply looked back at him and said "Have you looked around? Once you do that, you will see why I live here." He hastily walked off, shaking his head.
For some reason, that thought popped into my mind this morning. I woke up at six and watched the pale orange and yellow glow of the sun come up and over the Chilkat Mountains from the warmth of my living room. Stuart had just made it home at midnight the night before from his annual deer hunting trip. Stuart and his friends all came home with an average of four deer per person. My son Charlie stayed home from preschool to watch his dad tend and hang the meat. I gave the deer toes to my friend Megan. Her partner runs a native dance group in Haines, he plans to use the toes to make baby rattles or will attach them to regalia he wears to dance in. We are also giving the deer hide to a Native Elder, she will make moccasins or another traditional project. It's important to me to use all of what the animal has to offer. I don't want anything to go to waste, I find it to be more respectful to the animal.
While I sat and watched the sunrise, I thought about how thankful I was that Stuart had made it home from a week long hunt. My two children were still snuggled in their beds, winding down from the excitement of dad being home. I really love this time of year. The tourists have gone, most of the restaurants have closed, and it really is the time that most people might think "What DO you do here?" The sun comes up later and sets earlier. Starting a wood fire every morning becomes part of your morning routine, just like making your coffee and brushing your teeth. But it's easier to get to sleep, everyone is calmer. It's much harder in the summer to get kids down to bed at 8pm when the sun is still high in the sky.
This is the time of year, where the communities strength shines throughout our little town. I have found that I get envious of people in the "lower 48" posting pictures on social media of a fun art class they did that night, or going to the pumpkin patch, or driving to the big city to go watch a Seahawks game. So instead of feeling disappointed that we don't have those things, the people of Haines simply create their own fun. Instead of an art class at a winery, my friend Genny and I are hosting a "Sip and Paint" class at the senior center. There is no pumpkin patch here so we buy our pumpkins at the grocery store and the preschool hosts a pumpkin carving night. We flock to the local high school to watch city league basketball. Our children can admire their dad (or mom) play ball through out the winter. The lighting of the library is a beautiful annual event that is coming up, holiday bazaars, the Christmas parade where the famous "snow dragon" makes it's way down main street, the lighting of the historic Fort Seward, the list goes on. It really is a fun and busy time of year, all you have to do is show up.
So instead of feeling like I am raising my children in a place where we don't have the unlimited amenities, I am raising them to hunt and appreciate the land. I am raising them to participate in our community that cares so much about it's people. I am raising them to know that we can create our own fun if you just look around.
What I should have said to that tourists that sunny day was, "Well, you don't live here, so I guess you'll never know."
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!