Sunday, October 19, 2008

Snow Is Very Cold...

...when you fall flat on your face in it.

This will be a post with a lot of random stuff that I have forgotten to mention before. Yesterday, being a Saturday, there was no school. So Alfreda and Samuel had said that they would take me for a walk around the village. So I walked uptown to pick them up, then we went downtown, then we went back uptown again. It's a very small place but we stopped to play with the dogs, throw snowballs at icicles and visit with people, so it took us about 3 hours.

There are 3 or 4 houses where the teachers live, and the B&B/store where I am staying, and then there are about 20 other houses. The total population of the village is about 80. 17 of those 20 houses have families with alcohol problems. All 20 have lost someone to alcohol - whether it's suicide, accident or murder. A number of villagers are in jail for arson or manslaughter - all alcohol related. One of my students from last year is in a treatment centre after trying to kill himself. He ended up shooting part of his face off.

Someone once asked the lady who owns the B&B whether it was not depressing that there are so many alcohol related deaths but she said that she was surprised there are not more. She said that when she hears partying late into the night she's always happy the next morning when there ISN'T a report of someone falling into the river and drowning, or being found frozen to death at the town dump.
A couple of weeks ago, 2 of the villagers went down to Aniak to pick up a new ATV that one of them had bought with the family's Permanent Fund Dividend. Down in Aniak they picked up the ATV, got drunk, and then tipped the boat over on the way back. Luckily they were OK but the new $7K machine is now down at the bottom of the Kuskokwim.

This is a damp village. They're allowed to drink alcohol, but not sell it. As a result, there's a lot of bootlegging. Scotch that would cost $11 in Anchorage costs between $60 and $100 here.

This is a picture of Susan's husband Doug, and his friend Scott. I forgot to mention that Doug has some brilliant phrases. He told me a Marine Corps toast that I'm not sure I should repeat here, given the fact that my mum is reading it :o) He has been up here since he was 23 and before he met his wife he went to the lower 48 to meet another woman he had been corresponding with. He'd never seen her before and he said that when he met her "She looked like 7 bags of a**holes and they'd taken out all the pretty ones" :o)

Here is my transport of Friday night. It was excellent fun. After Sam and Alfreda and I had roamed the village I dropped them off and then walked down to the shore.

I keep being drawn to the river. It's about 1/8th of a mile across and even in the few days I have been here, it's freezing up more and more.
This part is now frozen half across. As I stood on the shore I could hear the ice shifting and creaking and banging together and the sound echoes around. Apparently the river is completely frozen down below Aniak. So I'm hoping that when I get to Kalskag on Monday I will be able to go out on the river.

I walked back through the snow along the shore. At one point I walked up the hill to take photos of an abandoned house. I was carefully trudging upwards when suddenly a dog barked right behind me. I jumped and fell flat on my face, and slid, face first, back down the hill! It was REALLY REALLY cold. You'd better appreciate these 2 photos. You have no idea what I went though to get them!


Bobbie said...

Oh Donna, what a great eclectic group of thoughts, and taking us on your adventure! I really DO appreciate those photos!! :o)

And I've heard enough Marine toasts that I suspect you are correct to not repeat it today. :o)

I am saddened by the alcohol problems...but not surprised. It touches everyone, involves such widths and depths...but is made worse in some ways, being such a small place and so isolated etc. Not trying to start a long thread, or act like an expert, but your words said it well, really brought some 'real life' into focus for this reader of your words.

The river already looks more frozen than the other day. And since I've fallen frontways in the icy snow myself, while trying to carry groceries from garage to house, and slid a ways down the driveway, I agree, IT'S COLD! :o)

Donna's Dad, we spell it wrong here, also, 'whiskey'--although there are a few that are okay. But I do know that the true spelling brings some very worthwhile taste and is worth finding the correct spelling, ha.

Donna, thanks for the look at your Saturday there, and your photos are awesome, as are your words. And after your cold snowy fall, I'll use an English expression to sign off: Take Care!

Bobbie and Larry

Donna said...

Oh Bobbie - what a lovely comment - thank you!

Julie said...

Sheesh - gan canny, lass! (But I do appreciate the pics!) :o) Jx

sally906 said...

Where are the bears ***whine whimper pout*** I thought they'd be roaming the streets - I had visions of you fighting them with a brolly in one hand and your shoes in the other!!!

Your photo's are great - is is lovely sharing the adventure with you

Anonymous said...

That's not nice, keeping it all to yourself. Mum does like SC she has drunk it in the past, not very often because she wants to hog the whole bottle. The first time I had it I drove from the middle of Cambridge to home along the river bank, you remember that road that follows the river, all twists and turns, I must say I was glad to get home. By the way, your Mum is still uncontrollable after one glass of Sherry, she does not want too much encouragement to fall asleep in front of the telly. I must remember to wake her in another 15 minutes.

Donna said...

Sally - I haqve come to the conclusion that there are no bears in Alaska!

Dad - I'm shocked! How did I turn out so lovely?

gary warren niebuhr said...

Oh, that is so sad about the alcohol. We look on this area as some rare paradise and forget how hard it is to love there 24/7. You might be giving hope to some who might fall if they cannot open their imaginations. GWN

Sofia Alissa said...
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Sofia Alissa said...

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