Sunday, December 20, 2009
Last night was majestical…there is no word in the English language that articulates what I experienced. So, my husband came up with: ‘majestical’.
At 6:00 pm we received a call that a friend was stuck on our hill in his suburban, with our 16 foot trailer attached. He decided to return the trailer as a bad storm was beginning. Half-way up the hill he started careening backward. He ended up ditching the trailer and then jack-knifing his suburban. Jeff and Leif went down to pull him out.
As I finish off dinner the power kept flashing off and on. The “snow globe” snow that had fallen softly throughout the afternoon turned to a torrential down pour of snow that was rapidly accumulating on the power lines. I was warming some mushroom chicken that I had cooked the previous day, praying the power stayed on long enough.
The chicken, by the way, was a home-grown, Cornish-cross hen raised by our friends, the Cress’. When Sarah and Jesse “off-ed” the 22 meat chickens they raised this summer, we helped out and in return they gifted us some dead fowl. Jeff helped slaughter, dip and pluck and I helped with the inside cleaning and wrapping. I couldn’t eat chicken for a couple of moons and now that I am feeling better about poultry, I decided to give it a go. Killing, preparing and cooking a chicken not purchased in a store is a new experience for this city-reared girl, but it turned out great! I brined the bird overnight in a salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper solution. I then cut it up (also news on this front: I finally figured out how to cut out that piece that has the wish bone in it. My Gran always fried this piece and it was my favorite. For years I have been trying to figure out how she cut the breast in such a way to get a piece with the wish bone intact…I finally did it!), browned it, and baked it in a mushroom gravy.
When Jeff walked in the door at 6:30, and thankfully sat down to his hot supper, the power went out and stayed out. We ate a romantic meal by candle light and then listened to daddy read Kipling’s, The Jungle Books. It was a great evening spent together without electricity and all of the distractions that come with it.
Shortly after 9:00 pm the power came back on. We put the boys to bed and the snow was continuing to fall. At this point it looked like we had at least six inches of snow fall. Jeff went to work at the station and I settled in for the night. A few hours later, he bounded into the bedroom and said, “You have got to come outside!”
He took me outside to see the most beautiful sight I have yet to see in Alaska. It was a perfectly still full moon night. The wind had lain down and a foot deep, blanket of snow shrouded everything. The snow was soft, voluminous and cloud like. The trees looked like a huge vat of icing had been poured on them. Some of them were so heavy with snow their smaller limbs were breaking. After the raucous storm the world had fallen completely silent. The moon light was bright enough to read by. The blue moon light reflected off of the newly fallen snow to create an ethereal world of winter wonder…it was ‘majestical’. The sight was so spell binding that neither of us could speak for nearly ten full minutes. We stood there and whispered in hushed tones about the beauty we beheld. About the time Jeff turned to head back to work, we looked up to see a cow moose not twenty yards away. She stood soundless and stalwart, staring us down. Looking at us with knowing eyes she seemed to question whether we could truly appreciate the world in which she lives.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
"The Fam at Thanksgiving"
In three-year-old vernacular, “wife in Awaska is pretty funny…”
As I write, “snow globe” snow falls gently outside. Winter is here. The studded tires* are installed on the truck. The skis, snow machine, and sleds are dusted off and at the ready. My husband had to plow our road for the first time today.
I love winter time. Once the snow piles up, Alaska is a pretty fun…and funny place to live. It never fails to bowl me over at how industrious Alaskans are in the winter. Summers may be filled with fishing, gardening, canning, and hunting, but winters are far from sedate. When I want to crawl in for a long winter’s nap and “layer up” with chocolate cake every day, these crazy folks are rearing and ready!
The day after Thanksgiving we went up to Kenai to catch their winter carnival. The Cress family invited us to attend with them. They told us we needed to get our parking place early for the light parade. At 6:00 we lined up with well over 200 cars to watch as Christmas-lit floats drove by slowly at 6:30. As we waited I marveled at the families lining the street. We warm-blooded Texans were waiting in the truck, meanwhile the crazy ones stood, sipping hot cocoa and watching their kids throw snowballs at each other. From young to old, entire families clad in all manner of cold-weather gear stood outside awaiting the parade.
"Leif and friends at Thanksgiving..."
The first to come down the street was the high school band. They oom-pah-pahed with great effort and sounded pretty good…at least well enough to send me mentally on vacation to a Friday night football game. (Hmmm...I used to think I was cold at some of those games.) While watching them shuffle past in their plumed hats and unprotected ears, I thought of many family members and friends alike that bemoaned their marching days.
“These kids are hosses,” Jeff said!
I tend to agree. We watched as they marched a good two miles, lips pressed against freezing cold instruments, in their uniforms, without coats.
After the parade, we drove over to the baseball field to watch the fire works; again, more waiting with the Alaskans playing out in the snow and the Texans in the truck. When we got there the Cresses joined up with their extended family. Jesse (dad Cress) came over to our truck and invited Jeff to go have a “fireball”. Where we come from fireballs are hot, cinnamon flavored jaw breakers. However, in Alaska the word “fire ball” actually involves fire and a ball. I looked over and saw a group of men huddled in a dark circle, with a flame that kept leaping up from among them. Occasionally, the flame would die out only to be re-lit and tossed about again. A few minutes later, Jeff runs back to the truck stating, “I think I caught Craig’s beard on fire!”
As he explained they were tossing a lit, tennis ball soaked in lighter fluid. The key was to keep the ball moving around the circle as long as it would stay lit; kind of like hackey-sack, only with fire…and a little stupidity. Luckily, the children were at a safe distance eating snow and playing in the sub-zero temperatures.
The night ended with an amazing fire work display. I love fire works…they are my favorite. You can’t watch fire works without smiling. It is impossible. Try it. These were especially good and especially close. It felt like we were right under them. I didn’t realize how much I had missed a good firework show.
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday after Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving because it is all of the food and fellowship without the stress of presents. I like the Fourth of July because it is all of the food and explosives!
However, the Fourth of July is rather anticlimactic here because the sun never goes down, thus no fireworks (or ones that you can see, anyway). Kenai saves their display for the day after Thanksgiving and New Years. We will most definitely be back again. Leif has yet to stop talking about his fun day. Maybe, next time I’ll remember the hot cocoa and brave the elements like one of the crazy folks.
You know it is chilly when the poor dog's toy freezes up into a block of ice.
*Studded tires are siped, all-weather tires, covered in 200 1/8" steel, studs.