Thursday, March 05, 2009

Coming to an End

For several weeks now, a notion has been flitting around in my brain, one that made me a little sad and a little glad. This morning I awoke to find that the notion had become a solid conviction. After nearly three years of blogging, it is time for Tundra Medicine Dreams to end.

This blog has always been about life in Bethel, the Yupik Eskimo culture that enfolds it, and the practice of medicine in bush Alaska. It is not about Kenai and life on the road system, which is not so different from life in the rural Lower 48. Since I no longer live in Bethel, I find it difficult to continue writing blog posts in keeping with what Tundra Medicine Dreams has been about. And though Kenai is very much what people think of as classically beautiful Alaska, I am not inspired to write about it. Nor do I think that it is what TMD readers come here to read. Kenai is not the frontier of civilization that Bethel is.

I began writing this blog for two reasons: to create a portrait of a culture that is fascinating and very different from the one that most Americans and Western Europeans are familiar with; and to create within myself a discipline for writing. I believe that TMD has done that.

In three years I have written essays covering a wide range of topics on bush medicine and Yupik culture. These days, most visitors to the site arrive via searches on things I have written about: huffing, botulism, breast-feeding practices, Eskimo diet, dog mushing, kuspuks and many more. For that reason, the blog will remain open and available for people to learn what they can from it.

My occasional trips to Bethel and the villages may inspire a few more posts in the coming year; I certainly don’t rule it out. But my writing has taken a different direction, which is what I always ultimately intended. I am finally writing my novel.

For most of my life I have known that I had an ability to write in a way that people enjoyed reading; I simply never felt that I had a story to tell. Now I do. My life in Bethel has given me that story. It will be about a woman who is a physician assistant and a dog musher, who goes to live in a Yupik village to provide health care and to train an Iditarod-hopeful dog team. She will have many adventures, both medical and musherly, and she will learn much about the culture in which she lives and about herself. I am already many pages into it, and enjoying the process of creation thoroughly.

Perhaps when I think it is ready, I’ll post a preview here. I don’t have a literary agent, and don’t have a clue about how writers get one; I know publishers take a dim view of manuscripts sent to them without benefit of an agent. If Tundra Medicine Dreams can help me to open that door, it will have achieved far more than I ever dreamed.

To those few readers who have followed my progress here from early on, thank you. Your loyalty and support have meant the world to me as a fledgling writer. To those who took the time and care to comment, you have my deepest gratitude. As the author John D. MacDonald once wrote in a letter to my Dad, “writers drop feathers down wells and listen for an echo.” Comments on this blog have, for the most part, been positive and inspiring. And to those casual visitors who found this site through various search engines, welcome! I hope that the writing you find as a result of whatever search string you used peaks your interest to search through the archives and read more. A large volume of (I hope) interesting material awaits you there.

And so, for now, so long. May you each and every one go well.

Photos of Bethel by The Tundra PA:
1. My favorite trash dumpster
2. An old truck rusting into the earth in City Sub
3. Boats frozen into Brown Slough
4. Frozen Kuskokwim River just after sunrise in November
5. Sunset over tundra



Anonymous geena said...

Goodbye and good luck to you. I'd love to read a preview of your novel when you get to that point. Take care of yourself!

Thursday, March 05, 2009 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

I have enjoyed following your blog and wish you the best in your literary endeavors. I do hope you will post excerpts from time to time as it sounds like a story I would like to read.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll miss you...

Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:13:00 PM  
Blogger Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

Thanks for three years of great reading, and I look forward to reading the novel.


Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:34:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. A said...

This is one of the first blogs that I read. Thanks so much and good luck to you!

Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I'm with Geena and Ruth, I want to read excerpts as you go!

And I'm sorry to see this blog go silent, it has given me many great stories to read over the years.

Maybe the next story of yours I read will be hardbound (and signed!) : )

Good luck and God Bless.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 6:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From one Alaskan to another;

I get it.

Thank you.

Keep pursuing the light.

Friday, March 06, 2009 12:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too will miss your blog. I live in Upstate NY and while winters can be rather arduous here, they're nothing like what you have gone through in Alaska, and it's been fun to have a view into that world. Someday I hope to go to the Iditarod, and see some of the wonders that you brought to life in your blog. Best of luck to you and enjoy writing your book - I'm sure it will be a great read and I can't wait!

Friday, March 06, 2009 5:28:00 AM  
Blogger akfnp said...

I will miss you. Best of luck on your novel. I have no doubt you will find your way and I will be looking for it.

Friday, March 06, 2009 3:45:00 PM  
Blogger Vijay said...

Echoing Dr.A, yours was one of the first medical blogs that I started following when I started blogging. Haven't been a very regular visitor of late.
Wishing you all success with your novel TPA.


Saturday, March 07, 2009 8:11:00 AM  
Blogger Randall Sexton said...

I'll miss you. Always nice to see pics of snow.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 6:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Thanks for a wonderful journey. I'm looking forward to the novel. Best of luck in everything.

Saturday, March 07, 2009 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll miss reading your blog, and look forward to the scarce posts you're (hopefully!) moved to make :)

Saturday, March 07, 2009 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

I will truly miss reading your posts! Thank you for capturing the magic and beauty of this land and its people with this blog. I look forward to reading your novel some day.

Best of luck to you.

Sunday, March 08, 2009 3:05:00 PM  
Blogger Omnibus Driver said...

You will be greatly missed. Please let me know if you start a new blog somewhere.


Monday, March 09, 2009 1:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only started reading your blog recently, but I have really enjoyed it. Best of luck with your new endeavours!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 8:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nooooooooooooooooooo. :-(

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 4:14:00 PM  
Blogger Christina LMT said...

No, say it ain't so!

I'll always be grateful that I found your blog, Tundra PA. And I look forward to your novel and the odd post that might show up here.
Good luck and thank you!

Friday, March 13, 2009 6:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many Thanks for keeping me up to date on Bethel happenings, and in touch with the ideologies common to the Delta. I'll be going back to Alaska in August, and to Bethel in September after over a year away in IL, MI and FL. Maybe I'll start up another Bethel-based-blog to keep everyone up to date! Hope you enjoy your new digs in Kenai, and your four-footed neighbors.

Anne K

Saturday, March 14, 2009 7:45:00 PM  
Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

You will bmissed...

Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:23:00 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Take care and thanks for the lessons in Alaska! Best Wishes for the new job!

Monday, March 16, 2009 8:19:00 AM  
Blogger RunninL8 said...

Thanks for all you have shared and much luck with your continued writing!
I'll keep watching!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Cush in San Diego said...

I guess all good things must come to an end but I'm not really ready for this! Your writing and photography have let me journey to Alaska and get a sense of the culture and surroundings in Bethel. Best of everything to you and Dutch. When you finish your book you might consider publishing it in electronic format for sale through Amazon, in addition to the usual printed version. The Amazon Kindle book reader has gained many fans recently. Here is a site operated by an on-line friend who is a published author that might interest you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 3:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have greatly enjoyed your writings. As a PA in Anchorage who moved here from another part of rural Alaska, I can personally relate to much of what you have written about over the years. If you believe that life is a series of overlapping chapters in a large book, then Bethel was one in yours. Thank you for sharing with us.

Thursday, April 02, 2009 9:41:00 AM  
Anonymous ozzidoc said...

Thanks for everything. Good luck with this next stage in your life. I'll miss you. You know where to find me if you ever need to..... :)

Saturday, April 04, 2009 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Ask the doctor said...

I have really enjoyed the posts and information you presented this whole time. Good luck in your future and please stop by my site sometime. The url is

Friday, April 24, 2009 1:53:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

It's been beautiful. I wish you the very best :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 2:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a family practice PA too. I have applied for my Alaska license and I have two rural jobs in Alaska to choose between. I have 10 years of experience, and I am choosing sites that are approved for student loan reimbursement. I sure would like to ask you questions. One of the sites is very near Bethel -- Aniak. Please contact me ASAP Once I've decided which site to take and have moved, I plan to start a blog too. I'd love your advice. Thanks! Virginia

Sunday, May 17, 2009 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

I've enjoyed your blog. Best of luck in the new writing adventure.

Monday, June 01, 2009 2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Bongi said...

only just discovered your blog now. sorry. i'm a bit slow on the uptake.

Monday, August 17, 2009 6:52:00 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

thank you for everything--I've enjoyed reading very much. I only read the closing bell now...


Monday, August 24, 2009 7:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Sharon Moses said...

Have enjoyed reading your blog so much! I am faculty with MEDEX now and up here in Anchorage helping John Riley get the Anchorage site going. What a great place! Would be fun to touch base, perhaps someday! Just read about Kuspuk and now I'll go buy a pattern, some fabric and make one! When I get back to Spokane as I have no sewing machine here. Oten wondered about them as I have seen them in the fabric stores and on our students. Thanks for enlightening me! I could go on and on, but do want to thank you for your blogging and wish you blessings on the next chapter in your life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found your blog; every day I go back in time to 2006 and am slowly reading forward. As a southwestern desert person, it's fascinating!


Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Caroline Robberecht said...

I stumbled upon your blog during a search about kuspuks and absolutely love it!! I've started reading from the beginning now and it's like reading a fascinating novel about life in rural Alaska. I've learned more than I could have possibly imagined in just one afternoon and evening! Thank you for all the effort and for keeping the blog out there.

Caroline, from Belgium

Thursday, January 07, 2010 1:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every why has a wherefore.........................................

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 2:44:00 AM  
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