Co-authored by daughters, Gail and Susan
Brainstorming one day, 20 years ago, Gail and Susan came up with a list of things they had learned and how they survived in Alaska. My kids were dragged to Alaska by me, their adventurous mother, in 1967. Gail was age 8, David age 6 and Susan age 5. We survived and now it is 51 years later! Memories are vivid!
You know you are an Alaskan woman:
When a relaxing night out is 2 hours spent in a lawn chair with bunny boots and Carhartts, mittens and warm hat watching the Northern Lights bounce across the winter midnight sky.
When camouflage is your wardrobe basic.
When your only perfume if bug repellent
When you reassure your kids, while fishing or hunting, that leaves are OK in absence of real toilet paper.
When you grow up and play with pets like Bullwinkle the rescued baby moose or the lost baby seal that we affectionately called Sammy. Bullwinkle liked bananas, chocolate milk, pancakes and dog food, in that order. Sammy cried like a baby when you left him alone in his “fish-tote home.” We fed him Avocet Cream in a bottle. He had to be burped by putting him on your shoulder and patting his back. His burps and spit ups were awful smelling! He grew big at the end of fishing season and he was taken back to his home in Cook Inlet waters.
When you have a constant bonfire on the beach at the fishing sites with a big coffee pot perched on a warm rock to keep warm. When you built a tripod to hang your Dutch oven to cook the chicken and noodles or moose stew to perfection. Spending the rest of the night with loved ones and friends, watching the sun bounce across the top of the mountains reflecting off the waters of Cook Inlet. Kids sleeping in sleeping bags around the camp fire.
When you know better that to wear polyester or V-neck T-shirts around a glowing, popping hot camp fire.
Knowing how to sharpen a knife, fish knife or skinning knife, and sharpening husband’s and friends’ knives.
When you regularly clean the family’s limit of clams while the husband talks about the “big one” that got away standing around the camp fire with his buddies.
Your tackle box has, among the regular fishing tackle, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, diapers, ammunition, GPS and toilet paper.
When you do a better gut cleaning job on the season’s moose than the other hunters.
When you know all about tanning hides of all kinds of creatures and have the recipe for tanning in you recipe box.
When you teach husbands, friends, sons, how to sharpen a chain saw.
When you drop a tree with a chain saw, split it, carry it home and carry it in the house, start a fire with no paper and regulate it within 25 degrees so you can cook supper.
When you have a valued tree limb collection to carve beautiful wooden items.
When you can build and maintain a smoke house, because you have caught your limit of salmon, gutted and prepared them for the smoke house.
When you supervise and celebrate the new location for the out-house.
When you can tune up your own personal rototiller and snowmachine and know how to use them.
When you go to weddings or funerals or get-togethers, dressed in clean Levis, wool shirt, hiking boots and feel comfortable.
When the outside temperature reached 50 degrees and it is way to hot. And you wear your perfume of bug repellent.
When you tell your significant other that you would like have a high-powered rifle for Christmas.
When you repeat year after year, saying you would rather have a real cool rock off the beach, than roses.
Every day you educated your children in the ways of Alaska. And see it pay off in later years.
And only you can give them hugs and kisses at the end of the long summer day before they drop into bed for a long sleep.
Thanks Gail and Susan! The list is longer but I will stop for now.
The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self-taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.