Monday, October 30, 2006

Ryan & Heather's Second Message

July 2006

On July 13th Ryan’s dad flew out amid a Humboldt County style torrential downpour. We had a wonderful time during his visit and greatly appreciated his help in moving the cast iron cookstove through a cabin window and up the hill. We also appreciated and enjoyed the benefits of his successful skills at fishing.

His help was also immensely important as Heather had managed to bring a stubborn sinus infection with her from Humboldt County. Although various antibiotics and home remedies have been tried her sinus infection still lingers. Luckily, it’s more of a nuisance than anything and doesn’t cause too many problems in the daily work on the land.

It seems we have also brought Humboldt’s rain as the Brooks Range has had an exceptionally wet summer.

In between the bouts of rain we’ve gotten days of sunshine allowing us to explore the lakes coves, the nearby hills and to hike up one of the mountains to look back at our cabins, mere dots in this vast wilderness.

It has also, on occasion, been warm enough to swim in the lake. A term the arctic folks usually describe as: A lakeside streak and then a quick plunge. The plunge is usually followed by one or more swear words and a quick exit of the water. At times, however, the water has been warm enough to stay in for a few minutes. Actual laps, however, have yet to be completed.

Animals have been a bit more active recently. “Morris,” the young awkward moose, has tipped over our canoe at least once and has been seen having dinner at a nearby cove. The squirrels, birds, rabbits, etc… have also been very active reminding us that summer is ending as the young go out on their own now and everyone seems busy either preparing to leave or gathering food for winter.

We’ve been lucky enough to have eight loons on the lake, four of whom are babies. It’s been fun to watch the young learn to dive and to hear them learn to make the famous eerie loon calls. At this point the young loons sound more like a combination of a cow, a cat and an adolescent boy trying to learn to yodel.

We’ve been busy as well since the berry and mushroom season seemed to appear out of nowhere. We’ve enjoyed blueberry pancakes, cakes, muffins and syrup. We also jarred some for the cold winter months.

Mushrooms have accompanied almost every one of our meals for a week now and we dried a couple dozen for later as well.

We’ve also been busy getting the cabin ready for winter. We “snugged” up the door against winter drafts so well that it takes about two full body yanks to open it. We also added a large rustic deadbolt onto the inside of the door. We are both sleeping a little easily now knowing that a curious bear can’t just nudge the door open with its nose.

We’ve also re-chinked about half the walls with moss for insulation and secured the windows for winter as well as built a woodshed...

...and a sawhorse.

Heather has fallen back into her old addiction of photography. Sorry, you’ll have to wait a year to see if there are any good shots.

Ryan’s been busy becoming a world class chef on the often temperamental wood stove.

August 2006

August started off with snow on the distant mountains. The nights are now quickly getting colder and darker and the bearberry leaves are starting to turn red. They will soon be followed by others until we are surrounded by a blast of color as intense as the dropping temperatures.

We saw the moon for the first time mid-August but ithas yet to be dark enough to see stars or northern lights. Although summer is still here it is obvious that fall is quickly creeping up the doorstep.

We’ve had no visits from the bush pilot in over a month (and thus no mail as well). We did hear that there was a prospector on the south end of the lake. I guess within the first week after his arrival he had the bad luck of his partner high-tailing back to society, leaving him alone with mining equipment that broke soon after and the endless company of a harassing black bear (which explained the random gunshots we heard in the middle of the night). Of course it was raining the whole time as well.

By the time we got around to stopping by he had left. So far we haven’t met the famous black bear.

We have, however, met just about every mosquito and black fly in the area. It seems they are trying to use us as their main feeding ground. Somedays our shirts are nearly black with flies and mosquitoes crawling all over them.

We expect only darker and colder nights and more brilliantly colored fall days. Hopefully soon our nights will be full of streams of northern lights as well.

We have now settled into the rhythm of our life here and wonder often how life is going out there in society - we would love to hear updates! We would gladly trade, to the first person who sends us one, a jar of blueberries for a jar of blackberry jam.

We want to thank the many people who have sent us packages and letters. If you are interested in sending us packages or mail, you can send them to:

Heather Meader and Ryan Emenaker
P.O. Box 26073
Bettles, AK 99726

This is the old list- please see the new list on the Winter Update post Of course we always welcome:

  • chocolate and other goodies
  • news of Bush’s newest wars, etc…
  • socks
  • stamps
  • black tea
  • non-perishable salsa
  • dried fruits and veggies
  • sinus infection cures
  • books/info on the history of Anaktuvuk (the village) and gold mining in the Brooks Range

We have also found that: oats, flour (white or whole wheat), sugar (brown or white), toilet paper and vinegar, although less interesting, are used constantly. Gifts of these items, large or small, are also of course always welcome.

We would especially like to thank Heather’s amazing sister for working so hard to get news out and supplies in in time for winter. We would also like to thank Elaine, Heather’s mom, for her wealth of knowledge, her help with the supplies, and for being the go-between with the doctors regarding Heather’s sinus infection.

In addition, anther big thank you goes out to the friends in Fairbanks for their help and open doors as well as to Tim Miller for translating our scribbles and putting them on the blog.