Spring Fever

After months of mostly dark, cold days the weather is finally changing.  Most of the snow is gone and the river should be breaking up any day.

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Before the snow started to fade from the tundra, Kian and I took a snowmachine trip to Black River.   An older white couple has lived there since the late 70s in a small cabin they built.  They just got back from town and wanted to go check on the place and get some things.  I’d been waiting for an opportunity to go look at a snowmachine they’ve been wanting to sell and since it was a nice day, Kian and I tagged along.  I’d never been to their cabin before so it was pretty neat.

002003013014017Kian had gotten a little cold playing in the snow, so Mrs. Carin made him some hot orange drink.  He slurped down 2 cups before going back to playing in the snow.

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Hiding in the back is what I came to look at, a 2010 Yamaha Bravo

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I peeled the cover off only to be pushed out of the way by a 3 year old.  “Daddy, do you like my new snowmachine?….”

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Only 2 more days of school left and only 1 week until we leave the village for our summer break!  I am SO READY!!!….I think.  I look forward to the changing seasons here because it means I get to do something I haven’t done for awhile, or haven’t done at all yet.  We’re gonna miss the fishing.  Gonna miss hunting for eggs: duck, goose, seagull, etc.  But we did get to go pick some greens already.

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We also got a lesson in gathering Tundra Tea.

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Andy and Sara showed us how to gather Tundra Tea.  Andy is the one who has introduced me to most of the native foods I’ve tried.  And I have loved every single thing I’ve tried so far.  Well, almost.  A couple years ago, while we were field dressing and quartering up a moose I had just caught, he talked me into eating a piece raw.  Yes…raw.  He gave me a chewy piece that I gnawed on for several minutes, really trying to suck it up and go native.  Eventually I caught him with his back turned and spit it out.  I tasted that bloody piece of fat for the rest of the day…Yuck!  But everything else has been great.  Or maybe I’ve gotten more accustomed to it.  When I first came here I tried Akutaq (eskimo ice cream) and I didn’t like it at all.  It’s made with fish, berries, sugar, and crisco, and I thought ‘This is disgusting, how do they eat this stuff?’  Now I can’t get enough of it,  I’ll eat it by the bucket!

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One of my all-time favorites has been dried fish and seal oil, but recently there’s been a new favorite:  Culunaq, which is fish that is salted and put in a bucket and left there for awhile.  After some time (a few months?) you take it out and soak it in water, changing the water 2-3 times to remove the salt, then it’s ready.  The 1st time I tried it, it was cooked in boiling water.  Shortly thereafter I was speaking to a couple guys, one is an elder who I really respect, and they told me that cooking the culunaq just ruins it.  “You’re killing the taste!  Eat it raw.”

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Heaven help me, they were right!  That’s the only way I’ve had it since, and I’ve lost count of how many times Andy’s invited me over to have this for breakfast, to which I always respond, “I’m on the way!”

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One of the best things about springtime is manaqing (ice fishing) for sheefish.

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Essie and I both caught a fish this day.  I had planned on taking a picture of my first fish of the year, but after Essie pulled hers out of the ice, I refused to document my shame.

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We brought it home and put it in the freezer.

“Kian, what are you doing?  Close the freezer.”

“Mom, I just gotta look at the fish, I gotta see it’s ok.”

“It’s sleeping, Kian.  Leave it alone.”

“It’s not sleeping momma, it’s eyes are open.”

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For the next few days, several times a day, Kian would have to go check on Mom’s big fish.

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