Here it comes, finally. Summertime in Alaska. A mad frenzy of visiting and soaking up the sun. Tyler’s been busy hammering away at construction projects and I’m busy being a homemaker, Momma, and gardener. Spring has been beautiful so far. Lots of sun and signs of life springing from every nook and cranny of the earth. Robins, yellow legs, snipes, sparrows, juncos, mallards, shovelers, swallows, sand hill cranes, geese, swans and rusty breasted blackbirds are back just to name a few. We hear all of them singing their songs. Sydney is overjoyed at all of the new commotion outside and often points to sight a bird before I even notice. The frogs have come out of their mud in the ponds and are making loud croaking mating calls to one another. The birch trees are starting to bud out. Rhubarb, chive, and iris shoots are coming up. What an amazing time of year we’re in! Despite the love I have for spring, I’ve been lingering over a few weighty thoughts lately.
Coming in and out of the woods every year can spark some serious emotions about life and it’s meaning. It’s like living in two different worlds.
In the woods, you have peace, tranquility, meaningful work, even your posessions hold more meaning. What you have out there is all you’ve got. You can’t just go get another one. Living in the woods is a lifestyle where waste is the ultimate violation and fashionable clothing means functional. A disposable lifestyle and life in the woods do not mix. In the woods there is no confusion, or wasted time over choices. There are simply jobs that must be done in order to live. Life is fairly basic and straightforward. We don’t even have to choose which radio station to listen to since there’s only one of them. Family time is our entertainment. Yes, life in the woods is good. However, it lacks something that also brings much meaning to life, community.
Every spring seems to go the same way for us every year. After spending 6 or 7 months out in the woods alone. I start longing to be with people again. I want to spend hours gabbing on the phone. I want to be in a room full of people laughing and catching up with each other. I want to talk to other women! Tyler doesn’t seem to need this as much as I do. When we get back to town in the spring we always have this discussion at some point. Tyler wants to stay on in the woods. He doesn’t like town life very much. We both agree on the reasons why town life sucks but it doesn’t change the fact that that is where people we know and love live.
Town means money. When we are in town we are trying to make it any way we can. It’s been a challenge over the years keeping our lifestyle and finding suitable seasonal work. We have to find work that is flexible to our lifestyle. We have to be frugal and we have to do a lot of things for ourselves to save money. If it can be made we make it. If it can be grown we grow it. We try to reduce spending on useless things. We try to get the most value out of the catch from our trapping season.
I haven’t had the chance to get a peice published lately because life has just been too demanding lately. Tyler has a list of work that seem impossible to accomplish and I’m busy doing everything I can to reduce his workload while juggling the baby. For the past month Tylers time has been consumed by a cabin we have next door on our property that we are going to market as an Airbnb. It needed a makeover and Tylers given it a good one. He’s refinished all of the interior and the exterior. A major undertaking. All that’s left to do is some yard cleanup and a photo shoot of the place for the website. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on taking care of our hundreds of potted garden plants and forking and prepping garden beds for the big planting weekend. I’ve got carrots, peas, and potatoes germinating in their beds.
Our work gets interrupted by various other tasks all the time. I’ve found that going to the laundry mat once a week to do the laundry is a pain and total waste of time. I rallied for a washer and got one. It’s not a conventional washing machine. It’s a portable electric one that you dump hot water in by hand. I use heated rain water from our collection tanks and hang the laundry outside to dry. It’s been a nice time savor for me. I really appreciate not driving to town for the laundry. Today I called Alaska Battery Supply. A local store that specializes in solar power and off the grid appliances. I’ve been working on making a good decision about purchasing a pump and on demand hot water system to rig up a shower to our rain collection tanks. It will take a few days to make the purchase and rig everything up. Before Sydney came along I could have taken on projects like this all by myself but now I need help and project approval on everything because Tyler has to do most of the work. I’ve turned into the wife with mile long honey do list, though I do try to be helpful. It’s been the most challenging part of motherhood for me! I am extremely independent and handy and it’s hard to sit on the bench. After 10 years of construction work I’m used to using tools and working by myself on projects. I know this time with Sydney is fleeting though, and do make the best out of enjoying her. There is just such a rushing urge to act fast in the short Alaska summer that makes this slower pace of doing things hard for me.
As soon as Tyler finishes up next door he needs wrap up his skull cleaning operation. We try not to waste any part of the animals we catch. He cleans up interestingly shaped bones from the animals and makes wind chimes with them. He also cleans up all of the skulls, a tedious process. He needs to label and tag, skulls, chimes and various tanned fur before this weekend when they are due to be dropped off at a local shop called The Little Willow in Pioneer Park, a popular tourist stop in Fairbanks. When he gets finished putting the sale items together he will jump in the garden with me and get everything planted.
On Monday our busy schedule was interrupted by an interview we agreed to do with an online publication called The Penny Hoarder, a website about interesting ways to earn and save money. The Penny Hoarder can be found most easily on Facebook. The interview and photographer took up our entire day. We got a few things done but production was slow and it was hard for us to be patient and share our time.
Tomorrow Tyler’s attention towards work will be put on hold once more. Our good friends who live much like us will be boating out of their trap line over the next few days and Tyler will be driving to the Yukon River to pick them up along with their 4 month old baby and dog team. We haven’t seen them since last August and we are really looking forward to their arrival. It will be nice to have our friends around that have experiences we can truly relate to. We talked to them on the satellite phone a few days ago and we asked them what Tyler should bring for them for the drive back to town. They want good clean water. The snows been gone, so they couldn’t melt it and drink it anymore and the river is murky and full of debris because of breakup. They haven’t had fresh produce for a long time so I’m sending along some apples, oranges and fresh pineapple.
This morning I was cleaning up the house, paying bills, and cutting fruit while Sydney toddled around the house. She likes to stand at the screen door and look out at the dog team. She tore out the bottom of the screen this morning in her excitement and play. Just another thing for the honey do list… fix the screen door.