The first thing in the spring that I was sure to pick for my mom growing up is what we call pussy willows, they are a white fluffy bloom on willow branches that are one of the first bloomage of spring. They are not a flower but they were pretty to me so I made sure to pick a bouquet for my mom and often times my grandmothers as well.
When summer came I loved picking blue bells and purple iris for my aunts, grandmothers and mom. They would smile and say thank you and it made me happy to make them happy. I still feel that way today when I make someone smile, it makes my heart happy. I have been struggling as of late to be my usual happy self. It is a inner battle of self esteem and wondering if “what if.” Then I surely snap out of it thanks to my sister who has been here for me when I needed her the most.
I am confident things will only get better as long as I continue to stay faithful to God and trust and rely on Him. I will teach Duke to admire flowers and pussy willows where they grow instead of picking them. I use a camera to take pictures of the flowers I love and come across because they do the world justice where they grow so beautifully.
When you thank God every single day, He will hear you. Each and every single day I find so many things to be thankful for! My favorite form of thanks comes very naturally, I look at the trees against the sky, or the snow and examine how intricate each snowflake is, always remembering each and every single one is unique and different. Absorbing all His beauty it literally puts a smile on my face and makes me blush, God is that awesome! I hear Duke say “thank you Jesus, Amen” sporadically throughout the day and agree with him. I cherish the meals my sister prepares for us so lovingly. I share the stories I write with my Mom over the phone and love to hear her laugh! I get to feel so very happy every single day and when I get frustrated it doesn’t take long to no longer feel that way after a simple prayer. I am so excited for church because we can actually go now! I’m excited for fellowship because when that wholesome feeling in your being is shared with so many people it is truly amazing. I hope no matter the struggles you go through in life, you can still smile at the end of the day because you made it through the day!
There were seven members in our family growing up in Unalakleet. Every summer we spent up river at our cabin. This was essential because we could not afford groceries most of the time, so we had to work very hard for our food in the summer and save most for the winter.
Our sein net was black and the holes were very close together so that the fish wouldn’t get caught by the fins or gills. My dad and one brother would work in the boat while my mom and myself along with my three other siblings would work the shore. This was the hard part because we did not have the horsepower of the boat motor to help us. My dad maneuvered the boat in reverse to let out the net slowly while we on the shore held the rope that was able to let the net out just enough to stay in the middle of the river. We had two favorite sand beaches we used. They had to be long, once the net was let out we worked with the current, not against it. We kept the pace of the boat and it didn’t take very long for the net to become heavy with live fish. My dad would bring the net in downstream of us and we were tasked to pull in the net just enough so that no fish escaped. Then the fun part began, all five kids and my parents used our hands to grab only the biggest fish and beached them. We did not keep the small fish, they needed to grow more and when we catched tubs full we let all the rest of the fish loose. It was amazing to be a part of and we got a lot of fish seining. Then the work began cutting the fish so they were able to be hung by the tail. My mom cut them perfectly and my dad was very good at washing them in the river and hanging them on a makeshift drying rack. Once all the fish were tended to we transported them to our cabin to be hung under cottonwood smoke and dried properly. Each day we had to check all the fish to make sure no bugs had laid eggs on them during the night while the smoke let down. We worked very hard during the summer but when the hard work was done we got to be free and wild in nature. It was the good life. I cut and dry the fish we catch the same way my mom has so many summers over and over again. I’ve lived a fish rich diet my whole life, except while I went through my deep depressions. I am very thankful for the unique life we grew up living, it is truly a one of a kind and I enjoy sharing stories, more so in person than writing. Never loose your uniqueness that is what makes you beautiful, to me each person is beautiful in their own way. To find beauty in all you come across, is a beautiful life, to look for fault in all you come across, is a faulty life. Stay beautiful!
Every day is an adventure with my son Duke. I thank the good Lord for him every single day. When he reads a book after he is done he shuts it and says Amen. At night we say our prayers and pray for all his brothers and sister. His memory amazes me. Each day you can give your child a memory they will cherish a lifetime or a nightmare they try to forget. He has had an amazing childhood and it will only get better. Zero cavities and we do not use fluoride products. Love your children, teach them responsibility and good strong work ethics, they may not thank you later in life, but the only thanks you need is a good hearted child.
The miles on his play quad wheeler is most likely in the thousands. The plastic tread on the tires are almost gone.
The neighborhood tractor. Ash pooled together the neighbors to fund a neighborhood tractor. Our roads are not maintained by the local government so it does come in handy.
Moose tacos. “Smile son.” His real smiles are priceless. Very simple meal. Pan fried moose meat with taco seasoning, soft taco wraps, three cheese shredded mix and grape tomatoes.
Where the white fern grew.
One of my favorite things to gather in the spring are fiddleheads. Those are the unfurled ferns of the forest. It is important to blanch the fiddleheads before consumption because a natural toxin is removed through this process. The taste is reminiscent of asparagus and the nutrient value is very good. Bears will overindulge sometimes on this raw green and in turn die. When the fiddlehead unfurls it becomes a fern free to dance and sway in the wind with no worries of being plucked because the fern itself is inedible. I love to sauté the fiddleheads after being blanched. I use butter and garlic salt. I started pickling some and I found my new favorite way to store them for winter. This past fall Duke and I found this white fern. I was in astonishment. It’s season was over and winter was around the corner so I plucked it and kept it until it faded into brown. This was the only white fern I have ever seen. I was amazed and always will be thankful to God for all of His creations.
I was born in Nome, Alaska and raised in Unalakleet, Alaska. Regardless of where I live I will always do my very best to live off the bounty of the earth. Literally, gifts recieved from God. Amen. A subsistence lifestyle passed down from our ancestors.