Written by my daughters, Gail and Susan, several years ago in a brainstorm of brilliants and lots of smiles and laughter. They were dragged to Alaska by their adventurous mother, when they were 8 and 5 and their brother David was 6. They learned to survive through the years by using different techniques and adapting to any situation that presented itself in the woods, beach and the below zero isolated winters, in the meantime accumulating a sense of their Grandpa McClure’s humor. The following is the result of the brainstorm between Gail and Susan.
You will always know an Alaskan woman
Because they not only carry a skinning knife, a gun and bug spray, but can sharpen the knife and their husband’s and friends’ knives too. She is a dead shot with the gun.
When spring cleaning includes “relocating” the coyote and assorted road kill that did not get skinned, tanned or traded to friends.
When they have a tanning recipe box and trade recipes.
When they regularly clean the family limit of clams while the husband discusses with his friends the “big ones” and she actually gets them clean and packed to freeze before dark.
When your tackle box has lunch — peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — diapers, ammunition, GPS, toilet paper, hand-wipes and bug spray.
When it takes less than seven years to teach your significant other you would rather have a cool rock from the beach than roses for birthdays or anniversaries.
When camouflage is a wardrobe basic.
When you do a better gut cleaning job on the season’s moose or bear then the other hunters.
When they teach husbands, sons and neighbor’s how to sharpen a chainsaw.
When they drop a tree with a chainsaw, split it, carry it home, carry it in the house, start a fire with no paper, then regulate the stove within 25 degrees so she can cook supper.
When your Christmas wish list includes a high powered hunting rifle.
When your kids have dissected more than a few road kill porcupines and kept the quills as a precious find.
When a “relaxing night out” is hours spent in a lawn chair with bunny boots and Carhartts, watching the Northern Lights bounce across the midnight sky.
When you can out-spit your children on a double-digit below zero day.
When you build and maintain your own smokehouse. Catch, fillet and smoke the salmon with wood you have gathered, pealed the bark off, so as not to have a bitter taste to the fish, with the brine you “invented” yourself.
When you have a valued tree-limb collection to carve beautiful wooden items from.
When you can tune up your own personal rototiller and snow machine.
When you reassure your kids while fishing, that leaves are OK in the absence real toilet paper.
When bumps in the night are not a burglar, just a munchy moose or a nosy bear.
When you grow up and play with pets like Bullwinkle, the rescued baby moose, or the lost baby seal that was affectionately called Sammy. Bullwinkle liked bananas, chocolate milk, pancakes and dog food in that order. Sammy the seal cried like a baby when you left him alone in his fish box. He had to be force-fed Avocet cream and burped over your shoulder just like the baby. We all cried just like a baby when we let him go back to his natural habitat in Cook Inlet. And their other pet was a cat named Apple that turned out to be “loonie.”
When you get that midnight snack attack and sneak to the freezer and eat frozen homemade moose tamales.
When you know enough not to wear polyester or V-neck shirts to a bonfire or a big campfire cookout and to be on the look out at all times for flying embers and sparks.
When you go to weddings, graduations and funerals with hiking boots and Levi’s and feel comfortable. You take a moose pot roast or a baked salmon for the gathering afterward.
When you supervise and celebrate the new location of an outhouse.
When the temperature reached 55 degrees above outside and it’s way too hot!
When your only perfume is bug repellent.
When your kids stay up all night because the sun has not yet set — 19 hours of daylight is perfect for an excuse not to go to bed.
When you have educated your kids in the ways of Alaska and give them big hugs and kisses after discussing the location of the stars, The Big and Little Dipper, the Moon and the Aurora Borealis before they go to bed.
NOTE: All the above ideas were drawn from real life experiences!