Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pilot Station Photo Album

Pilot Station, Alaska

A beautiful Yupik Eskimo village on the Yukon River. Population about 500 people.

The Russian Orthodox Church

The Catholic Church

The new clinic...

...and the old clinic, now a residence.

The village store

Mom with baby wearing a mosquito cap

Kids are playing everywhere, and pay no attention to the mosquitoes.

Life at Fish Camp

Hanging freshly cut salmon strips and blankets to dry in the breeze for four or five days...

...and then into the smokehouse for about two weeks. The fire is kept burning constantly for the entire time. Letting the fire go out is considered "lazy on the fish" and an Eskimo elder can tell by the taste if that happened.

This elder is serious about her dry fish. This is Martha's mom, known to all as "Auntie M." There are over 200 salmon hanging in the rack over her head; she and Martha were up most of the night before, doing the cutting. The forked stick leaning against the pole is used to place the fish on the high poles.

Gutting the fish by the river's edge. The large white tote was full of fish only a few hours ago. At the edge of the table in front of the fish is an ulu, the curved-edged knife used by the Yupik for everything from filleting fish to chopping vegetables.

Mending the drift net. The man is working near the lead line, the bottom of the net, which often picks up snags and debris from the bottom of the river. If holes are torn, fish can escape through them, so they must be mended regularly.

When the fishing is good, everyone is in a good mood, despite the long hours and hard work. The smells coming from the smokehouse are tantalizing.

Life at fish camp is a family affair.

Butterflying the salmon head and popping out the eyes before smoking. The eyes are a much-loved delicacy, and are crunchy after they are smoked. Ummm...

Picking wild rhubarb. The stems are peeled and eaten raw, or sometimes dipped in sugar first. They have a tangy crunch that is quite delightful. The leaves can be boiled and eaten like spinach.

The universal mode of transportation in the village. Families of six or seven will all pile on at once.

Proud grandma, proud mom...

If the hospital ever decides to place PAs in the small village clinics, I'll be the first to volunteer to move to Pilot Station. I love the people there. It is a beautiful place to live.



Blogger Cathy said...

Your pictures are beautiful! I agree that rubarb stems are so good, except I put salt on mine instead of sugar. have you ever eaten homemade rubard pie? ummmmm!

Sunday, June 25, 2006 1:44:00 AM  
Anonymous scan man said...

Hi Tundra PA, Just dropped in after a long time. Great pictures (once again).
Fish eyes as delicacies??

Sunday, June 25, 2006 7:11:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Found your blog from the comment you posted at oncRN's blog. Fascinating... The salmon looks wonderful, but I'll skip the eyes.

Monday, June 26, 2006 5:07:00 AM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

Cathy--I love the photos, too. I had a great time cruising around the village on the four-wheeler, taking photos of everything. I only posted the best of the best. I've never had rhubarb alone as a pie, only mixed with strawberries. The lady I was picking with makes Eskimo ice cream with it; I plan to do a post on that subject soon.

scan man--good to have you back! I had noticed on my sitemeter than no visitors from Tamil Nadu had been around lately.

bob--welcome, and thanks for visiting. Yeah, I'm with you on the salmon eyes. Just can't go there, crunchy or not.

Monday, June 26, 2006 6:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the memories!
Gerry PA in Maine

Saturday, August 05, 2006 5:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Susanna said...

I was all smiles all the way through this post. I grew up going to Pilot Station in the summer, this was my summer home. After we grew up and had families of our own, we don't get to travel there as much. Mmmmmmm fish eyeballs! Especially large king ones :) You must just try them!

Thursday, April 13, 2017 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Tundra PA said...

Susanna, I am delighted to know that people are still reading here! So glad that you found the place, and enjoyed the post. Thank you for commenting.

Friday, April 14, 2017 9:34:00 AM  

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