Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Art Of Subsistence Living

Vegetarian: old Eskimo word for lousy hunter.
~Rural Alaskan Proverb

Friends headed out hunting.

It seemed everywhere we turned this weekend people were out harvesting and preparing the abundance of tundra food, whether that food was swimming, flying, hopping or trotting. So Mike and I participated wherever we were welcomed. Which of course was virtually everywhere. John Teddy and Pauline were out fishing for smelt on the mouth of the Kanetok. As we headed out on the river Mike noticed a set of moose antlers wedged sideways in a building. I had to get a picture because this was the mother of moose racks at least that I've ever seen. HOLY BULL, lol! Once on the ice we could hear and SEE the it cracking as the tide came in, WOW! Not wanting to fall through the frozen fault line we wandered back to land. Stopped in at Fannie's to find Tom skinning a 40 lb beaver he trapped specifically for the Easter Feast tomorrow. While Emma sat plucking some ducks harvested last fall. John Teddy called and ordered us to stop by for the cooked version of smelt they had just caught. I had to snap a pic of the ptarmigan drying by the neighbors house as we approached John's door (the other pic is of fish drying by my neighbors house). Upon entering we inhaled the tasty wafting scent of sizzling smelt as Chef JT stood over his electric fryer turning them. Just to the right of his gourmet set up, were 3 potential Easter bunnies his son Charlie had snared, waiting to be skinned. I have such respect at the hard work and subsistence way of life of my friends in Quinhagak lead. Back home we (family and friends) deer hunt, bird hunt, and fish but it is far more likely that one is doing such more as a sport versus a means of survival. Not that we don't eat every bit of it, but that we also have the luxury to run off to dine at the nearest restaurant or buy some 99% lean ground beef at Walmart any old time we decide our taste buds crave something different. It ain't so up here. If you don't shoot, trap, or catch it, your freezer and stomach may well go empty. Unless of course you sent yourself hamburgers from Anchorage before you flew up back in September, he he he. I've almost finished the last one, and they are now kind of freezer burnt. On a fun note, due to the high demand of eggs in lieu of the Easter celebration, we have had eggs in the store lately, and yes I have stocked up:)

Today Mike left to fly back to Wisconsin. Again, it has been so great to have a friend from back home visiting. The kids absolutely love him and when you see them together it's no wonder why. They baked several dozen batches of cookies, drank enough sugary juice to fund a cane field, and ran around outside burning the sugar energy. Wish I could come up with the crazy fun ideas he does and right off the cuff. We were all sad to see him go and will be writing letters, probably as soon as tomorrow:)

Thank God for Jesus.
And Happy Easter Everyone.
Many Blessings to you All!

"He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD." Genesis 10:9


  1. oh i sure do miss it... subsisting....


  2. You are up as late as me. Happy Easter my friend. Just 2 more weeks and you'll be home...subsisting;)

  3. Hi, Rachel -- I am really enjoying your blog. What village are you in? I will be teaching Diomede this fall, and I'm trying to prepare for life in the bush....

    Keep up the good bloggin'! :)

  4. Meredith, I'm thrilled you are enjoying the blog. I love sharing with my family and friends, it makes me feel closer to home. I highly recommend starting a blog even before you get to where you are going. I'm in Quinhagak, AK. We are a village of about 500ish during the winter and more in the summer. We are out on the Bering Sea about 70 miles south of Bethel. Fly in only. I love it. I'm not sure where Diomede is I'll look it up. Enjoy getting ready. The best is yet to come;) I'm excited for you. Keep me posted. Thanks for dropping a note! Rachel

  5. Meredith,
    Diomede looks so inviting to me! I currently teach in Homer but am thinking of taking a job in Point Hope (west of Barrow) for next year. I would love to keep in touch and hear about your experience on Little Diomede Island.
    - Kathy