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.
One summer in middle school a family from Nome brought their horses to Unalakleet. This was the first time I saw a horse in real life. I was in love with horses and they were beautiful. They fed along the coastal beach grazing on grass and could not be more picturesk. Nena was the name of the female horse. I was dared to ride her bareback when me and some friends drove out to the old dump site. I was up first, being assured my friends would hold the reigns and with the help of my sister and friends hopped on Nenas back. They started walking her and she took off full speed and I held on for about 30 seconds before she came to a complete stop and turned to her side almost as if to say “this ride is over.” I tumbled in the grass and did not get hurt. My knees were covered in grass stains, a small price to pay for my first horse ride. Then a younger friend was next, she got on, held on and was taken very far up the beach. We had to go get help because the horse did not stop for her, it just kept going.
The second time I rode a horse was in Fairbanks when I went to Rural Alaskas Honors Institute. We got to pick the horse that we wanted. I chose a male horse named Jessup. He was amazing and while all the other riders stayed on a slow pace, Jessup would stop to graze and then do a sprint to the group when they got a good distance from us. I got to go fast if only for a few seconds, I was in heaven and he did this the entire journey.
The third and last time I rode a horse was at the Cincinnati Horse Derby. My ex husbands Grandma owned horses she raced in Cincinnati, Ohio. She had a beautiful male white stallion. For exercise they tied them up to a rod with a leash that goes in a circle. I was able to ride him for a couple of minutes. We went round and round in a circle, posed for some pictures and that day her horse won at the races. We got to pose for pictures with the Jockey and her horse along with the blanket of flowers for the horse as well. It was all a splendid memory.
Someday I hope to own my very own horse. That would be amazing and the kind of work needed to take care of them, I’m willing.
Today I used my wood burning iron for the first time. This is what we call punk in Alaska. In ash form it helps absorb other substances more intensely. It would be interesting to study its effects in other combinations besides nicotine, considering that is what a lot of natives mix it with I’m sure it could play a more useful part perhaps absorbing nutrients that are beneficial. I’d like to try mixing some ash with chaga tea or Labrador tea along with my rosehip petals and spruce resin. Possibilities are endless with an open mind.