Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tejano Cheechako

I used to live in the land of trouser socks, planners, meetings and planners full of meetings. (For those gentlemen that do not know what a trouser sock is, it is somewhere between hosiery and socks ((For those that don’t know what hosiery is, it’s those stretchy, see-through “pants” that your wife burns 40 calories just putting on)). In this land suits were expected. A day at the office meant coming early and leaving very late. To get away from the office, you went on “working” retreats. This land possessed many happy people that loved their lattes, late nights and long meetings, but I was one citizen that had a secret. Secretly, I yearned to be free of my pointy-toed shoes and tailored suits. I wanted to relax! More importantly, I wanted my significance to be based on something other than the affirmations and desires of others. Instead of facing every day with anxiety and apprehension I wanted peace and joy in the simple things. So, when my husband came home one day and said, “How would you like to move to Alaska?” I was initially sceptical, but ultimately thankful.

Now, after living here for the last eighteen months, I feel inspired to share some observations, opines, and orations. The following is a synopsis from this Tejano Cheechako.

On our journey “North to Alaska” we found out unexpectedly that we were “with child” in Whitehorse, Yukon. That at least explained why I was feeling like the guy on the “Road to Tok” Sadowski, Froehlich, and Brown post card. If you haven’t traveled the Alcan with morning sickness, I highly recommend it. It is like several days at a theme park, all for the cost of fuel and the meals you lose along the way.

Once here, our first winter was filled with sights and sounds that were both new and exciting…especially that white stuff that kept falling from the sky. In Texas we only have it in little huts on the road side, and they sell it in things called, snow cones. There certainly is never enough that it must be plowed, shoveled, or blown. We also quickly learned that when you go out in the snow, you wear a hat on your head, not a toboggan. A toboggan is a sled, not a hat. This is a colloquial mystery to me. I have asked many people (all from Texas) what they call the warm, woolen hats worn on one’s head in winter, and the answer is always a sure, “toboggan”. Here, however this verbal slip has afforded others many laughs on my account.

I also learned that “muskeg” is not some large wooly, wild ox of the north, but a marsh-like plain. While difficult to traverse in the warm months, they are fields of enjoyment in the winter. I cross country skied across one for the first time. It was as if I was skiing through a majestic Norman Lowell painting (yet another great discovery). I fell only a few hundred times; this I like to think was due to my center of gravity being off because of my discovery in Whitehorse. I also rode on a jet ski for the snow, known as a snow machine. In Texas we use these vehicles on another form of water, known as a lake. Snow machining offered fun while providing a facial. Heading out across the muskeg with my toboggan tightly tied around my chin, I gave it all she had and ended up with snow cone up my nose, but at least my cheeks were sufficiently exfoliated and rosy!

Another great surprise came when we were asked to help process some road kill. Many of my relatives from Texas or Arkansas shuddered at the thought of their kin eating road kill. The very words, ‘road kill’ conjure images of the Clampetts and Ma fixin’ possum stew for supper. So, when I called to tell them we were feasting on fruit from the freeway, they flipped. Come to find out people in the great state of Alaska actually sign up to be one of the lucky few who are called to field dress and haul off moose that have been hit by the unfortunate driver.

We are now on our second winter and one of the proud members on the road kill list. However, we regrettably have yet to receive a call. When we do, I have my trouser socks ready. I think they will make good clean up rags.

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