Today was the 10th Annual Tribal Celebration and Health Fair in sunny Palmer, Alaska. There were so many talented artists along with informative health and educational opportunity booths. Door prizes consisted of unique hand crafted items donated by each table, bicycles for every age group, fishing poles, a grill and other Knik knacks. Outside there was a rock wall climbing set up and a bouncing set up along with a bubble station and chalk art. Drumming and beautiful Native dancing were ongoing and amazing! The foods served to our elders first included fresh Salmon and Halibut, moose stew, cheeseburgers with all the fixings, hot dogs, fry bread, rice, salmon spread, cole slaw, lemon cake and carrot cake. I was able to participate in judging the salmon spread contest. My favorite part was the hula hoop contest for all ages, including ages 80 and up. I had many items available at my table and received nice compliments. Many potential commission opportunities. My table consisted of slippers, mukluks, birch baskets, punk art and ornaments. I made everything except my mom made the seal skin women’s slippers, calf skin infant mukluks, the largest birch basket and the girl’s hat. The lucky rabbits foot found a lucky home along with some ornaments.
When the Celebration was over, everyone gathered around the drum in a prayer circle, with each persons hand laid on the person in front ending in a closing prayer. Knik, Cook Inlet, Chickaloon and other tribes hosted a great event. I plan on attending again!
There are many greens available to harvest on public lands in Alaska. One of the first to arrive is the fiddlehead fern. The young unfurled fronds of the ostrich or lady fern. They usually grow in a cluster circle. I’m always sure to leave half of the 8-10 fiddleheads. It is important to clean them and boil or blanch the raw fronds to rid the natural toxins. For long storage I pickle mine and they are good for winter.
Around the same time beach greens and willow leaves show up. We call the greens tikyuks and the leaves sura. Both are picked clean and wilted then stored in seal oil for longer preservation. Both have a bitter taste but are a great source of nutrients. When they are mixed with seal oil the bitterness is cut and they make a great side for niqipak or Native food night.
There are roots that are ready to harvest this time of year we call masu. I am hopeful to find some before they harden out of the white flesh form they are in spring.
Enjoy spring and the lands bounties!
I am in love with the perfect man. No matter how many mistakes in life I make, He loves me still. Nothing I do or say can make Him love me more than He does at this moment. This moment that I am alive I am loved beyond measure. Imagine that, beyond measure, or infinity. An infinity of love for a simple woman. Unending love. Forever is an eternity and I am loved for that long. It puts a smile on my face every single day. Knowing and believing I am loved for me. Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so.
Grace is given, as a gift, and received, as the gift it is. What is grace? Grace is winning the lottery when you didn’t even buy a ticket. It’s hitting the jackpot a million times over. It is receiving love that I don’t and will never deserve. It is amazing!
Add these two factors together and it makes you want to strive to be the best person you can be. Forgiveness of sin is remarkable, but it is not a free pass to do whatever you want, even though you can literally do anything you want to do in this world. Having this love makes you want to be a good person because you are accepted for what is, imagine… what could be. The infinity of love from the Trinity. Godhead. What you call your God, His son and the Holy Spirit. Perfect Trifecta!
Love your life, throughout your life, then your life will be well lived. What is it that you hope to give to this world? We can give nothing to this world because we are not of this world. The world is of us. Meaning we make this world what it is. Adding love to the world is loving yourself. When you love God above all things, that is the good life. No matter how much or how little you have in this world there is always one constant, and that is God’s love. He loves us the same because the price was paid for us. Jesus laid down His life so that we may receive the Holy Spirit. This was grace given in perfect form.
So we take each day and remember that today you are loved! Be love!
Usually, when I start to see geese or crane flying North, I know the fiddleheads are almost ready. These are the early unfurled ferns that like to grow in moist areas, such as near creeks or by the bay. In their raw form, fiddleheads have a toxin that can be removed by boiling the cleaned greens for five minutes then rinsing well before cooking or pickling. I like to pickle mine with a easy to remember solution of 3/4 water 3/4 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt along with pickling spices. Soon Devils club shoots and masu are what is harvested the same time as fiddleheads. Dandelion jelly is batter up and spruce tip syrup. I love harvesting goodness from this area!
Seal skin, beaver and calf skin design.
There is something about the first breath you take in when you step outside in the morning. I question myself “am I smelling spring?” Soon the sweet smell of flower blossoms will mix in with one of my favorite smells, right up there with baby’s first breath, is fresh greens. The smell of new life, it is intoxicating.
I look forward to harvesting fiddleheads and pickling them. I look forward to the mud! Why mud? Even though it may seem messy and a chore to clean up, mud represents the changing of the seasons. Spring or fall, times and seasons change and each season should be looked forward to. Different seasons give us different opportunities. Take each opportunity with a smile on your face because surely a new season is upon us!
The Mosquito Man
By Gertie Ann
Long ago, there lived a wicked hearted man. He despised summer. In part, due to the pestilence of the mosquitoes.
So, each day he worked very hard to kill as many mosquitoes as he could. No matter how many he slapped or flicked, there were always more to fight the next day.
This wicked man did not understand that the mosquitoes were an important food source for the birds of the sky. Each animal and insect in life plays its role in the circle we call life.
Our mother taught us to respect animals and insects alike, only taking what we need to survive for food.
One spring, the man was hunting in the woods with his dog sled team. His hate for mosquitoes transpired to different parts of his life. Creating a hate in his heart for all life.
His dog team knew to listen to their master. The one time they did not listen was the last time the wicked man would wreak hate in this world.
It was a spring day with the snow not yet melted. There were spring puddles here and there that the dog team worked hard to run through. Then on a trail well used the dogs came to a sudden stop. The furious wicked man beat the dogs to keep going, yelling and screaming like the mad man he was.
Still, the dogs refused to go on. Then he looked down the trail. There was a figure of a man on the trail. The wicked man was taken back and started yelling at this figure. He knew he did not hear him because he still stood there. So, the wicked man went to go talk to this figure.
Upon close contact the wicked man trembled at this figure, for it was not a man at all, but a swarm of mosquitoes shaped as a man. The mosquitoes swarmed him. Sucking so much blood from this man that he passed out and soon died.
When a caribou comes across a swarm of mosquitoes, this will happen to the caribou. The caribou will be so badly bitten they could not live on.
Being cruel in any shape or form will have severe consequences. Always remember there is a reason for all forms of life, and the best thing to do is to show respect for all life. In our culture, Inupiaq, we are told stories from old, so that we do not be cruel. Lessons are learned through stories like this to not be mean, even to blood sucking insects. When an animal is caught for food, nothing is wasted, we eat all that is edible. Anything that isn’t edible is given to the dogs. So always remember to be thankful, for food provided by our Creator, God. Giving thanks for everything.