Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2003

There I was sitting in my favorite chair looking out at my very icy driveway and thinking how much I would like to be out fishing than sitting here in my house. The thought of being out calling in coyotes or maybe even a wolf or a lynx are also amongst my thoughts.

I watch as a red squirrel digs in the crusty snow looking for some of the buried pinecones he stored away last fall. A raven lands on a nearby tree looking for anything that would resemble a meal. Two camp robbers are picking up grain my children dropped while on their way from the garage to the chicken coop. In my back yard, a huge cow moose paws the snow looking for grass that always grew tall along that bank during the summer. Despite not leaving my house, the wild life seemed to be every where and almost as though it knew it was entertaining me.

For the second time in the past four years I have been here at the house fighting pneumonia. In fact tomorrow will be the 14th day in a row I have become a prisoner of my home. No fishing, stomping the brush looking for moose horns or anything. Just sit here and wait for the medicine to do its job and purge this illness from my lungs.

I do not do sitting home very well and find being shut in very difficult. At the same time I also realize there are many people in our own communities that are shut in on a daily basis and in a whole lot worse situation than I am. People who are elderly or in poor health that can never get out and if they do, they are usually short trips to the store or doctor or other necessary business. People who have not felt the fight of a fish on a fishing pole in the summer or winter in years, if at all. Having the opportunity to taste fresh fish right from the lake to the frying pan.

If you know of a person in your community that falls into one of these categories, do what you can to get them out of their house to enjoy the Alaskan outdoors in whatever capacity they are able to. Take them fresh fish all cleaned and ready to eat, someday we may all be in the same situation. You don't have to go far to observe wildlife of some type here on the peninsula. A short trip around town can often times find several feeding moose and birds of all kinds.

Another idea is to help some elderly put up bird feeders, as bird watching is a very favorite past time amongst shut-in people of all ages. A few minutes helping shovel your elderly neighbor's driveway may produce several cups of hot cocoa or even some homemade baked goods, depending on the situation. If your neighbor is grumpy go help him in any way maybe you can help him become the happiest grump around!

If any of these people ask you with a bewildered look on your face what you are doing there, tell them ol' John sent you and that you're just there to help in any way you can. Not only is this the right thing to do, it is also a very rewarding practice looking after the elderly or needy people in our community.

As a young man living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I got up early one morning and grabbed my scoop shovel and headed for the door following a heavy snowfall. One of my roommates said where you going? I replied, to help people shovel their driveways and sidewalks. He asked, how much are you going to charge them? I replied, nothing! Well how you expect to make any money doing that, he asked. I said if they want to give me a few dollars fine, if not that's fine too. I asked him if he wanted to go along and he replied no. I said ok, your choice. I returned four hours later with a belly full of treats of all kinds and plenty of hot cocoa and $35 in my pocket. It was a great morning considering I never charged anyone a dime but was invited into every home I shoveled at and everybody donated something. Trust me, our people here are just as grateful as they are anywhere for a little help.

See you next Week!

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