Nature has it right

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I am in awe of myself.  Not because of anything I am doing at the moment, but because of the amazing things I did in my twenties, thirties, and forties.  When my oldest child was 4 1/2, I gave birth to my third child.  It is true that once you have one child, adding to the mix is a piece of cake.  But…I stayed home for 6 years, (which has its own unique problems for a woman) until number three was 2 years old.  From that point on, I worked full-time, paying exorbitant amounts for daycare, and juggling our lives between traffic, school, homework, housework, and sanity.

Having experienced those now familiar institutions called separation and divorce, I did this juggling act pretty much on my own.  When number 3 was 4 years old, I took a look at myself, and the life I was going to be able to provide for my children and beat feet back to my home town in the Aleutians so that the kids could be raised near my family.  Wow!  What a difference.  No more daycare.  No traffic.  The kids walked to school.  Extended family was there.  The community was there.  Of course I added things to the mix, so instead of just working and raising 3 children, I also was on numerous boards and was very involved in revitalizing culture.  But I raised 3 kids who went to college, none of whom are in jail, and each is self-supporting.  Wow.

So I am feeling a little bit embarrassed about the fact that I am rooting for this horrendous storm that we are in the midst of to continue….at least until late tomorrow.  Why?  Because my number 2 daughter was just out of town for a week, leaving me in charge of her one and only 11 year old.  The plan was for her to come back on Friday, and then leave again on Monday for another week long business trip.  Well, this being the Aleutians, her flight was cancelled on Friday.  And on Saturday.  Now, any normal person would have just hung it up and continued on their way to Portland.  But this Aleutian woman that I raised finally made it home yesterday at about 2:40 in the afternoon.  And is schedule to leave sometime today.  I don’t know when.  She flies so much, she never knows her flight numbers and packs the day of her flights.  But after a week of being totally responsible for one child’s life, including feeding, homework, social activity, cleanliness, music lessons, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera….I really need a nap.  And a lazy day.  I want to throw in the towel.

I am really in awe of all those poor grandparents who have had to take on the role of parents in our society.  I have never been more aware of nature’s limitations on energy and patience.  The deja vu moments when you think, “Hey!  I’ve already done this!”  Yes, nature is right in making it more natural to have young when we are young.  I can manage to be an excellent caretaker for a while, but, yeah…..I’m ready for simply being there after school for 2 hours until mom gets off work.  That’s what I’m talking about.

Update:  The weather cleared up.  The planes flew.  My whining did no good.  But…I’m okay, lol, and SP is fine.

Hunkering down

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When you live in Alaska there are just certain things that you expect.  You expect the long days of summer when the sun barely sets before coming above the horizon again.  You expect to spend a majority of your time hunting and gathering from May through October.  You don’t know when, but you expect that first dusting of snow on the mountains, more commonly known as termination dust.  And you expect it to be cold.  In the Aleutians, we also expect wind.

February was called Qisagunax^ by the indigenous people of the Aleutians prior to 1834.  This means famine.  February was the month when you were gaining about 4 minutes of daylight per day.  It was the month when you had already braved the storms of November, December, and January.  It was the month when you were coming to the end of some of your subsistence foods.  So food was scarce.  The communities were hungry.  It was a time when you needed to get out there and find something to eat again.

It is amazing that February is also the month during our long winters that can have some of the most beautiful weather.  Perhaps my ancestors knew this about February, so they were not particularly careful about their food stocks.  They did like to party and were generous to a fault.  Perhaps they knew they could count on the most gorgeous, brilliant sunny days in February, when the tide was out really low.  And the winds abated.  They could get out in their iqyan and fish, or hunt for that stray sea mammal.  Or access the tidepools for delicacies like sea urchins, mussels, clams, octopus, limpets, chitons, and seaweed.  Then they would hunker down when those north winds picked up again, coating everything in ice from the sea spray.

On days like these ones, I like to pull a fish out of the freezer and enjoy the fruits of our labors from the summer months.  I like to be warm and toasty in my little home, not caring what is going on outside my doors.  Like the windows, everything has a hazy, muted feeling of being cut off from the world.  Especially if the wind is blowing and your ability to hear anything besides the wind is gone.  Yes….just hunkering down and enjoying my solitude.

The constant ocean.

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When I am away from home there are quite a few things I miss.  The fresh, salty air of living in a seaside community.  The oft-times starkness of the mountains rising out of the sea.  Being able to keep track of the traffic at the airport because more often than not, I hear the planes landing and departing;  turbo props, not jets.  The background noise of gulls, ravens, eagles, geese, oyster catchers, and a dozen species of ducks.  The thrum of boat engines leaving the harbor.  The wild sound of the Aleutian winds.

At the top of my list is the constant sound of the ocean.  My house sits on a natural spit of land fronted by Iliuliuk Bay which is fed by the Bering Sea.  Even on a calm day there is the little slap of waves on the beach.  As the seas get  bigger, the sound of rolling pebbles and rocks being pulled by departing waves is quite satisfying.  But the best is when it is really blowing from the north and the waves are pounding the shore like a big bass drum.  That is the time when the waves are so constant and so powerful that they shake the shore and the land, the very air that we breath, and my soul.