Pioneer Potluck: You know you’re an Alaskan woman …

  • By ANN ‘GRANNIE ANNIE’ BERG
  • Friday, May 11, 2018 9:27am
  • LifeFood

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 anninalaska@gci.net.

More in Life

Sierra Ferrell performs on the River Stage at Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Salmonfest returns Aug. 2-4 for ‘musically infused family reunion’

The three-day event will feature art, festivities and an array of performers

Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music fest returns to RustyRavin

The annual nonprofit music festival is a fundraiser for Nuk’it’un, a transitional home for men

Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
King of the River food drive extended, Kenai takes lead

The winning city’s mayor will throw the opening pitch at a Peninsula Oilers game

File
Minister’s Message: The gift of lament

We don’t always know what to do in those difficult parts of life.

Chickpea lentil and spinach curry is served with rice and yogurt. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Finding comfort in memories

I believe that houses hold memories, and I hope the memory of our time there comforts it during its final, painful days.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Good old summertime

The lupines are crazy this year, as were the dandelions.

This advertisement for the Hilltop Bar and Café, the successor to the Circus Bar, appeared in 1962. The names under “Beer and Booze” refer to co-owners Swede Foss and Steve Henry King. (Advertisement contributed by Jim Taylor)
A violent season — Part 5

Bush did not deny killing Jack Griffiths in October 1961, but he claimed to have had no choice in order to protect himself.

James Franklin Bush was arrested and jailed for vagrancy and contributing to the delinquency of minors in California in 1960, about a year before the murder in Soldotna of Jack Griffiths. (Public document from ancestry.com)
A violent season — Part 4

James Franklin “Jim” Bush stood accused of the Soldotna murder of Jack Griffiths in October 1961

Most Read