Friday, July 25, 2008

The Future, a message from Heather Meader

As many of you know, I am returning back to the cabin in a few weeks. This is a time of many new challenges and changes, one of the most prominent being that I will be returning alone. I will be spending the winter (and possibly longer) living at the cabin as well as in Bettles or Fairbanks where I will be going to school online when I‘m not at the cabin. I suspect spending part of winter in town will be a very different experience - pipes to freeze, furnaces to break…plenty of adventure to be had!

After returning in 2007 I determined that I couldn’t leave my Alaskan home permanently. I couldn’t just walk away, deny its importance to me, start a new life and say : “Well, that was a cool adventure”. It had gotten back into my blood with such a fierce love and such a fierce passion - I couldn’t turn my back. It was too much a part of me, no longer layered and lost by the daily distractions of ‘civilization’.

The fact is, this beautiful valley holds my first memories and has always remained, first and foremost, my first love and first home. For me it is the place where everything -the land, my family, and their ideals- shaped so much of who I am. And because of this the world out there makes sense in a way that no other place has made sense to me.

One of the main differences between my parents and me is that my return is not based on a rejection of society. Although I have plenty of problems with the state of the world, I am not returning to the wilderness to try to remove myself from society and my friends and family permanently. Instead, I am trying to walk in two worlds. As much as that land is part of my heart and soul, so are my family and friends and the “landscape” of this “civilization.” Because of all this, I’ve decided to attempt to split my time between the two places. This return will be the beginning of this new life.

Lots of people have been surprised by this decision and have had a hard time understanding how and why. First, I think it’s important to note that many people split their lives between two places. Whether it be people who choose to have a part time home in Hawaii, Florida or Paris, or whether it be people who commute long distances in planes and cars for work. The idea that people can live or have homes in two places is not new to our society. Choosing to spend your time in a home in the arctic is a bit unique, I suppose, but to each his own.

To do something like this takes work and creativity. Deciding to do this meant trying to build a new way of life, and a way of sustaining that life. Because of this I have chosen to go back to school (online) for Graphic and Web Design, a job I can take most anywhere (although not all the way out to the cabin - thank God!). With these job skills I can work in Bettles, Fairbanks and California. Deciding to go public with my photography as well as talks and showings of Year of the Caribou was also part of that decision.

Another important aspect of my return is the realization of how much more Northern Light Legacy can accomplish with one of the family members now on the land consistently. Our goals to take care of the cabins, rebuild the old ones, and to gather information about my parent’s way of life has been, and will continue to be, easier through the consistent presence of one of us living there. Not to mention that a more consistent involvement on the land will also help in understanding more intimately the political forces that affect the landscape and life out there.

How my life on the land unfolds in the future still remains to be seen. Presently, I’m focusing and working on the immediate needs of restoring the cabins. Hoisting 25+ logs onto 10’ walls with me, myself and I will possibly be a very challenging endeavor for this spring or summer - but not impossible. (I take great comfort in the solitary life of the miners and trappers and what they accomplished). Of course, I would much prefer to be working alongside one or two other people on these projects. However, finding the right people to work on these projects is not always easy. I need a person to be skilled in many outdoor and building areas (or at least be an open and fast learner). He or she needs to be compatible in personality and work habits. It’s no fun to be trapped in the wilderness, swinging axes with someone you don’t get along with! And finally they need to have the job flexibility and financial ability to travel to the Interior Arctic for several months.

I am lucky enough to know several people whose skills and personality would be great for the job. Finances, however, are the single, largest issue that holds them back from assisting me with the cabins. With their help, I have no doubt that I could finish the Creekside cabin (Check out my website for pictures of the Creekside) and possibly restore the “Old Study”. What would help us at this time is donations, sponsorship or frequent flyer miles to get one or more of these people up to the lake for spring or early summer to help with the restoration projects.

If you would like to donate towards helping the restoration of the original cabins please contact my mother, Elaine McCausland, at Any questions in regards to the restoration projects can be directed towards myself at Please be patient, I’ll most likely be back on computer contact by December.

In the longer term future, as we rebuild the cabins and continue to turn the place back into a home again, we have also discussed possibly using the land to support short term visits. In particular, I have considered bringing children, students and/or photographers out to the land…to experience a world that is probably quite different from much that surrounds them. But at this time it isn’t the season for such plans. Now is the time to learn from, and to help take care of, a land that sustains me and has sustained my family. I have much to learn there still.
I am not sure of the length of time that I will remain in Alaska so I, of course, welcome any letters or care packages to help with the ‘wow, I am really all
alone out here in this land of endless snow and silence’ feeling that I am bound to have now and than (Please see the updated document titled: How to Write Heather for details)
So, for all of you that know us, and for all of you that have been following these updates, I welcome you to a new chapter!

If you haven’t already, check out our new websites (where you can buy the DVD of Year of the Caribou) and (where you can see pictures of my life out there). If you know of someone who would like to receive these updates please refer them to our website we they can now sign up for them directly.

I hope you enjoy the most recent updates and I wish you all the best in the rest of the summer, fall and winter.

- Heather Meader


Anonymous Izellah said...

People should read this.

5:38 AM  

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