A lifestyle blog about life and living in Southeast, Alaska.
Mother Nature Blessings
May 1, 2017
At 4:30 AM this morning, I woke to the house rumbling and shaking as a 6.5 magnitude earthquake rolled through about 90 miles from Haines. Growing up in Eastern Washington (where there are no fault lines) I have never experienced something so surreal and scary at the same time. I was in a dream (I don't remember what it was now) and waking up and realizing what was going on is something the town will be talking about for a while. Plus, another quake happened at almost the same magnitude a couple hours later on in the morning, waking me up again. This time the whole family was up for the day.
And because we were all up and excited about the earth moving beneath our feet we decided to venture out to Chilkoot early where the hooligan (euchalon) are running in full force. These mysterious little fish come up usually at the end of April or early May and come to spawn in the river (...and I say "mysterious" because know one really knows where they come, or why they return here). The come by the millions and it is a sure sign of life returning to Alaska from the long winter months. Whales, sea lions, and many birds enjoy the feast the hooligan provides them.
The locals enjoy catching them and eating them as the are rich in nutrients and vitamins. My favorite part about the hooligan run is to watch the natives catch them and fill the back of their trucks with buckets full to bring to pits they have created at the local village. They fill the large pits with the hooligan, cook them until they are soupy, and slowly scrape the oil off the top to jar for the winter (I need to get more details on this process). The oil keeps for years in jars and many people add it to soups or even to dip their bread in. Uncle Lawrence gave us a jar last year. I am still taking small spoonfuls out of this precious gift. I usually take a tablespoon full of the oil, plug my noise, drink it down and then take a spoonful of peanut butter to chase down the strong smoke taste. Catching hooligan and harvesting the oil is a tradition that has been happening for thousands of years. It's special for me to be able to have the oil to take while I'm pregnant, as I feel it is the best brain food a baby could have.
The earthquake this morning and hooligan run happening right now are sure signs that mother nature can provide us an abundance of gifts but also keep us in check on how precious these gifts are. The earthquake as a reminder we should never take gifts for granted. We live in the most beautiful and sometimes dangerous part of the world and the community comes together during times of abundance and struggle. That's what makes Haines a wonderful place to live.
On the way back from our little Hooligan trip this morning, Charlie told my husband and I, "I feel kind of bad for catching the hooligan." But my husband assured him, "Well buddy, you only take what you need and they come here to feed us and they die knowing they are helping keep us healthy." I wasn't sure how I could have explained it to our 5 year old any better without getting into more detail. But I am happy my kids get to witness the circle of life firsthand and savor some of mother natures greatest blessings.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!