Saturday, October 29, 2011

You Say Bushcraft, I Say Splendid!

Before I came North, (yes, with a capital "N,") I went in search of blogs about living in Alaska.  I found quite a few and my favorites were about "living off the grid," and various other wilderness survival posts.  (Where was all this blogging about lashing your own snowshoes when I was doing that kind of thing back in the day?  Don't you dare make a comment about how long ago that was!) That search led me to two of my favorite blogs to look in on, and oddly enough, neither one of them is about Alaska. 

One is written by a wizard (I hope he doesn't mind my using that epithet to describe him) honing out a wilderness life in Seoul, Korea.  Well, if you know much about me, you know how this just carved it's way into my heart and psyche.  Manta was a mere college boy at the time I was falling in love with his country.  (They told me back then that living in Seoul would be like camping out in New York City.  I don't really know what that means, but it certainly was a huge adventure.)I know he was studying very hard, because getting into college in Seoul has never been easy, I think.  And he's a literature instructor or professor or teacher--not sure which--but if it's literature, it's smart.  I could be a bit biased about that, but not much.  This is one of my favorite posts of his, but check them all out--you won't be sorry.  He can turn anything into something better!

The other place I love to visit is Buzzard's place.  Across the pond.  He mentioned something about Ulster in one of his posts--so you know what that did to me, too.  I don't know what a welig is, but I think I like weligs because of his post about basket-weaving.  He has a lot of other good stories and wonderful pictures of enjoying and employing the natural world, including, but not limited to worms in cod fish, diving gannets, snow-laden Lord Conway's limes, berries on bushes becoming berry jam in jars, among a myriad of other delights.

Manta and Buzzard, I hope you don't mind that I am linking to your sites.  I can't even get permission from you because for some stupid reason, I have been unable to comment on your blogs.  I can't figure out why, because I used to be able to.  Maybe some day soon I will get someone more savvy than myself to help me with that problem.  In the meantime, I keep looking for your latest posts, savoring each word and image, sorry that I can't post comments about them..  I'm also going to post links to facebook, hoping you don't mind.

These are qayaks made at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  I might have to do another post about this.  In the meantime, I wanted to include a picture of "bush crafting" without taking it off someone else's blog.  This is a picture from my own camera.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Of Moose And Bears And A Little Chapel In The Chugach

Isn't this cute?

I really want to take a walk up the hill and take some up-close pictures of this little charmer. I've even been given permission to go into the church offices down in the valley and retrieve the keys to get into the chapel from off the wall behind the door if no one is around to give them to me. The trail head that begins next to the wee cemetary looks oh-so-inviting. But look at this landscape. There could be bears! Or worse, MOOSE!

Well, actually there are moose in those hills. St. John's Cathedral and school and retreat and personal homes in this Antiochian Orthodox community are nestled neatly and sweetly down and around a peaceful country lane in Eagle River. And I've been told stories of moose clip-clopping along that same country lane. I didn't know until I moved here that I should be so cautious of moose. Even the bears steer clear of them.

There could very easily be bears in them thar hills, too. If they're not nosing around in some apartment building laundry room in Anchorage. (Yes, I know the woman who lives there--right off Muldoon.) Heard on the radio they had to herd a bear out of the grocery store produce department in Ketchikan just the other day. That's not Anchorage, of course, but still. Even in this city of more than 260,000 human residents, the wild animals often come to town for a visit.

They've told me at work that it's a legitimate reason to be late or even not show up to work if a moose ever gets in my way.   And that includes getting out of the car right there at work, because they have been known to lumber around in our parking lot.  A man I know who is blind was walking along the sidewalk looking for the bus stop and turned over his shoulder to ask the person a little further behind him if the bus stop was nearby. The stranger didn't answer him, so he just turned around to continue walking when people from across the street called out to him that a moose was following him! Stranger, indeed!  I blame his mom for not teaching him about the danger of talking to moose!

And then another man I know with very poor vision thought he was talking to his mailman out in his yard one dark, snowy winter day. Couldn't figure out why the mailman was traipsing through the trees in his yard instead of using the cleared-off sidewalk, until his neighbor clued him in on the visitor.

I've only ever seen moose on the loose from a car--once one was crossing the street from the mall to the filling station. There was that time many years ago when my friend and I went camping in South Fork of Ogden Canyon--last minute decision one early fall and we didn't have a tent. We were the ONLY ONES in the whole area. That was in the day when they didn't close off all the roads before summer was even over like they do now. We layed out our sleeping bags close to the car and also, unexplainedly, close to the garbage can. We must have thought it would provide a bit of extra protection. Not asleep, but with my head zipped into the bag, I lay listening to my friend snoozing away and then I heard movement from across the trail. It got closer and closer and I got more and more still. Tried to still my breathing, as a matter of fact. Whatever it was nuzzled and bumped my knees! I kid you not. It snorted and huffed and then I thought it growled. Rustled around the empty, tinny-sounding garbage can and left. I didn't move for hours! I still don't know what it was. Big. It was big.  Bear? Moose? Boose?

I told a friend I didn't want to do  much hiking these days because I don't have bear spray, but she said she has a couple so she can give me one of hers.  You never know where you might bump into an unsuspecting, easily-alarmed and therefore, dangerous boose.