Tyler likes to call summer the season of regret. There is so much to do and little time to do it. Before you know it your planning for the fall and half your list of summer work looks like it will be neglected for one more year. The days go by too fast! I feel like the day has just begun when Sydney wakes up from her late afternoon nap.
The weather here in Fairbanks has been perfect this summer, according to me anyway. Once a week we get a good rainy day that fills up our rain collection containers with good fresh water and the rest of the days are all blue skies and puffy white clouds. The temperature seems to stay in the 60 to 80 degree range…perfect! The mosquitoes have tamed down quite a bit after the initial June hatch and the wasps and hornets have made their nests by now and aren’t pestering every nook and cranny looking for the right place to build anymore. Tyler’s out in the garden weeding the chickweed out of the carrot bed for the third time this summer.
When Tyler got back from his trip to the lake to work on our cabin in the woods he had a wild idea. He wants to buy some property in Central Alaska, a sleepy community close to the Yukon River, population 70, median age, 54.6. We’ve taken 2 trips there since he’s been home to have a look around. So far, the people we’ve met there aren’t exactly welcoming. They basically look at us like we are crazy. You want to buy here? There isn’t a school you know. There aren’t any jobs. There is a post office and a small business that serves as the local restaurant, bar, gas station and general store. The same people who run the store seem to have every other job in the village cornered for themselves. We spent our first night camping there and before we left the next morning we decided to swing into the post office to leave a note on the bulletin board there to let people know we were interested in local real estate. The same lady that was running the bar and restaurant the night before appeared at the counter in the post office. On the second trip we made to Central to look at a place for sale we inquired at the store who we might speak to about getting electricity hooked up to the property in question, the store owner of course! There are abandoned properties scattered everywhere around this little town but good luck getting in touch with whomever owns these dozens of properties. It’s a total ghost town and no one seems to have any answers. We’ve posted our name and number and now we are waiting for a fish to bite. Meanwhile, I’m learning how to do title searches.
Tyler has been spending time working for a friend doing some building out on the Chena Hot Springs road and I have been a domestic queen. When I’m not cleaning the Air BnB, cooking, tending to the dog team or preparing vegetables to put in the dehydrator for our winter food I have been a committed jogger this summer. I gained too much weight when I was pregnant with Sydney and now I’m paying for it. I don’t want to begin another pregnancy with the added pounds so I’ve committed myself to losing it before the next one adds another 20 lbs to the collection. We have a great neighborhood loop for exercising and Sydney loves the fast ride in the stroller. I’ve always liked running ever since I started the habit back in high school. I haven’t always stayed committed enough to stay in great shape but it has always been my fallback form of exercise when I need to whip myself back into fighting shape. I’m not as fast as I used to be but I still love the feeling it gives me to make my body move quickly across the earth. Makes me feel alive and spunky. I also think exercise is a good thing for Sydney to observe her mother doing. I want her to grow into a young lady with healthy habits and I know she’s paying lots of attention to what I do right now. Careful, there’s a baby watching! About 12 years ago when we were new to the state I just about got myself killed jogging. I was listening to music and completely ignoring my surroundings when a cow moose with a new calf kicked at my head and missed only by about 12”. That’s when I realized that if I wasn’t going to be listening that I better be looking very carefully when I’m out and about. If Sydney isn’t along I listen to music. My favorite song to run to is Steve Earle’s song, Guitar Town. Even on the hottest, sweat dripping days that song can give me the shivers, Copper Head Road does the trick pretty well too. Early in the summer I was jogging by myself and one of the neighbors’ blue healers ran out and bit me on the ankle. Ever since then I’ve been carrying around a birch club in the bottom of the stroller. No shit head dogs are getting anywhere near my baby. Many people around here don’t believe in restraining their animals. Oh he’s nice, they say. If I don’t know them I don’t trust them. They ought to be protecting their animals from me!, a cave woman with a club protecting her offspring! The pounds are coming off and I’m getting back into “fighting” shape, as Tyler likes to call it.
It’s only mid summer but my mind is already focused on this coming fall. We will be boating up as a family this year with all 8 dogs. We will be extremely limited in space so we won’t be able to bring much with us this year. I’ve been concentrating on getting Sydney ready for her first big river adventure. I’ve found her 1st set of nice rubber boots and the baby equivalent of a dry suit. I did some poking around online and ordered her one of the top most rated life jackets for her weight bracket. Everything I bought for her will be bright yellow and easy to keep track of. I plan on connecting her to me with a rope attached to her life jacket loop. I’m hoping to get the life jacket in the mail soon so we can get the boat on the water and go for a practice camping trip on the river. I need to go through our winter gear soon and put together a good outfit for Sydney who will be big enough to go out and play in the snow with Momma this year. I have to find a good set of books for her that Tyler and I can stand to read over and over again this coming winter. Last year I brought lots of board books but that won’t do this winter. I want paper books because I will be able to bring more since they take up less space. I’m not too worried about toys since there are already some up there and I’ve found that babies will play with anything and want what you have most of all! Of course we will be bringing the essentials; Dolly, Puppy and Jimmer, the giraffe. I plan on making a felt board for her with lots of characters, numbers and letters. I can’t wait to see her reaction when we pull in the first loaded net of salmon this fall. My bet is that she will be afraid of them at first.
It’s already the beginning of the harvest season in Alaska. The blueberries are getting ripe and moose are on the prowl for tasty garden treats. Though we have a fence around our garden we’ve already been broken into by a local moose twice this past week. The casualties were 7 heads of cabbage, 8 broccoli plants, the tops of half of the kale plants, the once beautiful 5 ft bush of snap peas and the Swiss chard. Moose can be extremely destructive garden pests. We’ve started posting some of the dogs down by the garden at night for guard duty. Hopefully we can keep her from doing more damage. No matter where you live it seems there is always something threatening a gardens production. Besides the moose attack we also experienced an unexpected July 18 frost that damaged the outer leaves of our zucchini and the tops of the potato plants.
As soon as Tyler got a day off of working we anxiously ventured out for our first day of picking wild blueberries for the season. There isn’t anything like an Alaskan wild blueberry. They are nothing like the pulpy bland sweet of a supermarket blueberry. They are half the size and ten times the flavor. Their juice pops in your mouth when you bite down spilling their tart sweet goodness onto your tongue and dying your lips, tongue and teeth purple as a wine stain. After 3 hours of picking one of our favorite spots we headed home with a purple faced baby and our first 3 gallons of berries. Tyler’s going to make this first batch of berries into jam. We will freeze the rest of the berries we pick this season. We had big plans of picking for a few days in a row but lost momentum when our new used car broke down on the way home from the berry patch. Luckily we broke down close to Hilltop Truck stop and were able to use their phone to call a friend for help. We don’t have cell phones. Our neighbor came and towed our car into the parking lot and gave us a lift home. We spent the next day working on her in the Hilltop Truck stop parking lot and then gave up and pulled it home with a rented dolly. Parts have been ordered and should be here next week. Dealing with the breakdown put a wrench in our spokes but we’re ready to get back into the blueberry bog again.