Wednesday, June 06, 2007

No Place Like Home

Be it ever so humble, there is really no place like it. I love coming home no matter where I’ve been, but I especially like it when the travel has taken me Outside (of Alaska). Life seems crowded and frantic everywhere else when compared to here. The noise and smells of traffic; the disconnectedness of people on the street who won’t even make eye contact, much less smile or nod; the sense that everyone is in such a hurry to get to the next minute that there is no time to enjoy the one they are in; it all makes me really happy to get back to my little corner of the world where the Metronome of Life is clicking along at about 30 instead of 120.

Spring arrived in full while I was gone. The tundra is now covered in cotton grass, creating a dusting of white amongst the green foliage. Swallows are everywhere, whirling and diving through the air sending iridescent flashes of blue as the sun strikes their glossy feathers. The wind no longer has teeth that bite. And there is not much darkness left in the nighttime.

Of course the puppies grew like crazy. They are now almost five weeks old and just beginning to show some personality differentiation. They toddle about the area around their house without going far, and are able to get in and out the door with the help of a step. Princess has a tendency to want to wean her litters early, and she is showing signs of it already. Though she is very engorged, she doesn’t let them nurse at will any more. The only place she can get away from them is on top of their house, so that is where she lies when she needs a break. They are already eating meat soup from the dish, as well as nursing.

In a few weeks they will be exploring more widely and will need to be contained; at that point they will be moved to the big heat pen (10’ x 20’) for the next few months of their lives. The heat pen will be their home as long as they are all friendly with each other; eventually there will be bickering and sibling rivalry, sometimes with one pup being ganged up on by the rest. It usually happens around three or four months of age. That marks the time for separation, and each pup will be moved to its own circle and house. The first few nights of that stage are filled with puppy whines and whimpers as they learn to sleep alone for the first time. Their introduction to the harness and their job for life will come soon after, about five months of age.

Henry returned from his logging trip while I was gone. They went almost two hundred miles upriver, and were able to retrieve a nice pile of dead standing trees and drifting logs. They rafted them up and towed them home; after a week of drying out, they are ready to be bucked, split, and stacked in the woodshed.

While the wood has been drying, the focus has turned to fishing. The boat is cleaned up from the logging trip and is ready to go, and Henry has been working on the fishing net. It is 300 feet long and 20 feet deep. It must be stretched over a drying rack (which looks like a set of parallel bars for a short-legged gorilla) and cleaned and inspected. Holes are mended, floats are replaced when needed. Every aspect of life here has a get-ready phase.

The king salmon run is just getting started in the Kuskokwim River. A few people with set nets have caught some kings, but not many are being caught in drift nets just yet. By late June the king run will be well upon us, and we’ll be feasting on the finest salmon there is.

It is really good to be home.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Body Soul Spirit said...

I like the metronome analogy. Most of us don't know how to lower the pace, or that another pace even exists.
ruth

Thursday, June 07, 2007 1:18:00 PM  
Blogger c'est moi said...

Nice bit of writing!

Thursday, June 07, 2007 3:47:00 PM  
Anonymous subarctic mama said...

I'm with you and the happy feelings when returning home to Alaska. I love the pictures of the pups. Glad I found your blog.

Monday, June 11, 2007 7:23:00 PM  
Blogger Angel ARNP said...

I saw want to pick the puppies up and squish them. I also want to pack up and move to Bethel.

Friday, June 15, 2007 2:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Tundra PA said...

angel--YES!! Come on up! We desperately need locums for the family practice clinics. Email me if you are truly interested.

Friday, June 15, 2007 10:51:00 PM  

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