Sometimes it feels very strange to be so stationary for such an extended period of time. We always talk about how much we love to travel, yet here we are, voluntarily parked for 4 months in a Haines, Alaska. I’ve been watching the weather outside the cabin for the last 4 days, rain and more rain. But I’m grateful, Southeast Alaska has been suffering from a drought and this rain is the best thing that could happen. It’s funny looking out the cabin windows reminds me of looking out the windows at home in Greenbank. The water sits below us and the mountains across the way with an island in between. Except here the mountains are much closer and the island out here is much smaller. It’s comforting to feel so much like home, but the wildness sets it apart and makes it magical. Most of the time the only sound heard is the rushing of water down the mountain from Rainbow Glacier. It’s incredible to watch the falls grow in size and power as the weather slowly begins to warm up.
It feels like my soul and spirit are being overhauled by Mother Nature. Sitting still in the wild and seeing everything changing with the seasons is like sitting watching one of those time lapse movies . Everything in this part of Alaska grows and changes so fast. The wild irises spotted as tiny buds 2 days ago are in full bloom. Ferns that started out so tiny are growing like crazy. All this growth and activity makes me feel so very small compared to what goes on around me. This is a perfect spot to meditate and sit back and enjoy what has been given to us. We are so very grateful.
We’ve stepped outside and watched moose walk down the path; we’ve watched our local porcupine scramble up the hill just across the road from the cabin; the eagles have temporarily deserted us and have headed to Chilkoot State Park and river for the first salmon run of the season. Jim will be joining them next week to try his luck at fly fishing.
This little guy was hanging around near where Jim was fishing. All he wanted to do was get to the other side of the bridge. When he couldn’t get around the people who were clueless he swam across the river!
The first week we arrived I ran into town Saturday morning to check out the Farmer’s Market. Until the gardens really start to produce its more like a bakery/canned goods market. I did pick up some fresh salad green mix along with some beautiful chives. And as far as canned goods, I brought home rhubarb steak sauce, fireweed habanero jam and a large jar of pickled jalapeño mixed with onions and carrots. I decided to sign up on the Soil and Salt Marketplace– it’s like Etsy but for gardeners. I’ve ordered my first bag of garden goodies that I’ll be picking up on Thursday-it’s set up like a CSA but on a smaller scale. We’ve been thinking about getting a few tomato plants along with some salad greens to try and grow on the deck, I’ll let you know how that works out.
Our usual weekly bounty from Double Shovel Farm !
While Jim does latrine duty (and getting lots of positive comments from the campers), I stay behind and clean up the cabin and then it’s baking time. I’m baking our bread weekly along with something sweet-cookies or muffins. I’m currently waiting for a huge box from King Arthur Flour-prices in town for baking supplies are pretty high. Even with shipping it’s a lot less expensive. I just have to wait for Alaska Seaplanes to call and let me know my package has arrived. Then we drive out to the airport and bring our goodies back to the cabin.
I’ve baked all kinds of things this summer, bread, muffins, rustic tarts-it’s so much fun looking out the window at the mountains and water as I’m baking bread !
Exploring the outdoor areas is what occupies our time on our days off. We haven’t done any of the ‘tourist’ sites yet but we sure are meeting a lot of locals. Haines folks are very friendly. We wave back at them as we pass on the roads; strike up conversations at the artesian water stop ; chat with the Fiona at the local grocery ; we meet people walking their dogs or stopping by the day use area. It’s a small town after all and it’s easy to run into someone we met just days ago and greet each other as though we’ve been neighbors for years.
Have I told you how many creative and artistic people live in Haines ? Some days it seems like it’s most of the population. Yesterday while exploring Viking Cove we ran into Reese who has lived here for about 6 years, originally a glass blower from Southern California, now retired and just hanging out with the locals while building an awesome addition to a house. We’ve learned from Island life on Whidbey that most times you just have to learn to do things yourself. Here in Haines it seems that could mean anything from restoring a 1942 Ford to cutting and planking the wood you need for your home. I’m learning more and more about self reliance from this camp hosting gig than anything else. We have great buddies hosting over at Chilkoot and get to stop in every once in a while and visit with them !
I’m also finding more time to catch up on my reading. Mostly crime novels or thrillers about serial killers. What can I say, I was addicted to Nancy Drew mysteries growing up! But I’ve been distracted lately by Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”. She’s the one who wrote Eat, Pray Love-one of my favorites. Since I have felt serious writer’s block I thought the book would help loosen the cobwebs in my brain and it is helping.
I’m still early on in the Big Magic book, but I’ve set it aside to really think about the chapter on Permission” . This particular paragraph really has gotten to me : “Here’s what I’m getting at, dear ones: You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life. Maybe you didn’t receive this kind of message when you were growing up. Maybe your parents were terrified of risk in any form. Maybe your parents were obsessive-compulsive rule-followers, or maybe they were too busy being melancholic depressives, or addicts, or abusers to ever use their imaginations toward creativity. Maybe they were afraid of what the neighbors would say. Maybe your parents weren’t makers in the least. Maybe they were pure consumers. Maybe you grew up in an environment where people just sat around watching TV and waiting for stuff to happen to them. Forget about it. It doesn’t matter. Look a little further back in your family’s history. Look at your grandparents: Odds are pretty good they were makers. No? Not yet? Keep looking back, then. Go back further still. Look at your great-grandparents. Look at your ancestors. Look at the ones who were immigrants, or slaves, or soldiers, or farmers, or sailors, or the original people who watched the ships arrive with the strangers onboard. Go back far enough and you will find people who were not consumers, people who were not sitting around passively waiting for stuff to happen to them. You will find people who spent their lives making things. This is where you come from.”
I know that a piece of baggage I carry with me is that I’m not sure where my family comes from. All I know about my paternal grandfather was that he came from Russia. And my maternal grandfather is truly a mystery. He fled either the Austrian or Yugoslavian army and stowed away on a ship to America. 12 years after he arrived he applied for citizenship under the name of Moran. I’m not even sure if that was his real name. So when it comes to ancestry I’m at a dead end. This book has me thinking about where the creativity I have comes from besides my own spirit.
Growing up there was no one in my family who had any artistic leaning. And now anyone who could have told me more is long gone. I think I must have great great great grandparents somewhere who were gypsies and artists with green eyes (since I’m the only one with green eyes in my family!). So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. At least I know I got my fearlessness from my grandfather!
Okay, enough about me, back to Haines. Remember earlier I talked about picking up my bag of veggies from the CSA for Double Shovel Farm. Well I did and it was magnificent. Filled with fresh organic greens, herbs and fabulous rhubarb. We had a delicious salad that night for dinner along with my home baked no knead bread. And we topped it off with a Strawberry rhubarb crostata, rhubarb courtesy of Leslie and Double Shovel Farm.
And a little excitement this month. Jim got charged twice by a moose. She’s the mother of two baby calves that we’ve named Twist and Shout. We used to call her Mama now we call her Mamazon because she defended her babies like an Amazon warrior. Jim was hiking down along the waterfront and when he came up out of the woods he climbed up on a boulder and there they were, Mama and her two calves. As soon as Mamazon saw Jim she started snorting and all Jim could think of was to let himself fall into the spruce tree in a slow non aggressive manner. She charged him and stopped within a foot, her hackles up and still snorting. Jim didn’t move a muscle and didn’t make eye contact. She backed off and went back to her babies. She stopped, looked over at Jim and charged again. He thought for sure she was going to charge into his back but she stopped short. She slowly returned to the calves and all three of them wandered back into the forest. When Jim returned to the cabin, his eyes were as big as saucers! Just a little excitement ,but enough to last him a lifetime!
Alaska was on fire for weeks , and it was not just the unusually high temperatures. There have been about 126 fires all throughout the state. We’ve heard stories of grizzlies and their cubs running from the fires; lead cars having to drive people through the thick smoke in Kluane; cabins exploding in flames in Wrangle St. Elias. It’s so sad and I’m dreading seeing the damage once we leave here. We were under a burn ban for about 2 weeks . And now for the past 2 weeks, the smoke from the fires has been blown out but it’s still dry, in spite of two weeks of rain.
We got to visit Leslie and her partner at Double Shovel Farm-she’s an amazing person !
Another update on growing our own tomatoes and veggies, we started to think about doing that too late in the season, so I’ll continue to rely on Leslie and her bag of goodies from Double Shovel Farm. I am growing my own basil, since its so expensive and reliable in town. Im transplanting my seedlings today and hopefully the weather will hold so that the beautiful seedlings turn into beautiful basil that I can turn into pesto !
Im also going to try freezing some leaves for pizza and see how that goes. Anyone with a better suggestion on how to preserve whole leaves of basil, other than drying, please let me know.
We’ve got more exploring, hiking and fishing to do before our time here comes to an end. The good news is, we are coming back to camp host here next summer ! You are welcome to come and visit we would love to see you. Until then,
Happy Trails and safe travels.