Earlier this year, one Soldotna woman set out to unearth the traits and quirks that make Alaskans, well, Alaskan.
Hedy-Jo Huss has been trying to put her finger on what makes the quintessential Alaskan since she moved to the area. The results are in and a winner has been chosen for her contest in which she asked participants to enter the prompt, “You know you’re an Alaskan if…”
Jane Hill, a resident of Roseburg, Oregon who lived in Juneau for more than 40 years has been selected as the winner for her submission.
“You know you’re an Alaskan if, barefoot and naked, you can walk through deep snow on your back deck, in below zero degree weather, to get to the hot tub so you can watch the Northern Lights,” Hill wrote, adding that she and her husband did this often during their years in the Last Frontier.
The pair moved to Oregon in 2007 when Alaskan winters became a bit too much to handle, Hill said. They still come to Alaska once or twice every year to visit their friends and children, who still live in Juneau.
Of entering Huss’ contest, Hill said she tried to think of what made the state typically “Alaskan” for her and her husband, and that the winter nights out on the deck instantly came to mind.
“I just totally loved all 43 years I lived up there,” she said. “I love Alaska, I love Juneau. It’s just such a great place to raise kids. I love coming back every time I come back to visit.”
Huss sent Hill a small gift for winning the contest. She also chose two runners up: Edith Watts, a student at Soldotna Elementary who wrote, “You know you’re an Alaskan if you make snow angels wearing your leotard,” and Kasilof resident Jim Taylor, who wrote, “You know you’re an Alaskan if you you know Xtratufs aren’t members of a street gang.” Taylor has been in the area since 1959, he wrote, and his parents were homesteaders.
Huss said narrowing down the entries to pick a winner was far from easy.
“It was very hard to choose because people send in really clever ones,” she said.
Some things, like moose, fish and machinery became recurring themes throughout the entries, Huss said. She hopes people had as much fun writing them as she did reading them, she said.
“Now I know much more about what it takes to be a real Alaskan,” she said.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.