Monday, June 15, 2009

Beach Days, Camp Haze, Eggs, And Fish from the Bay

June arrives and the magic begins. I am yet again reminded of why I live here, why I put up with the hassles of living somewhere off the road system and all that entails -- Because of everything I'm going to post pictures of below. I really don't feel I need to explain much, because the past two years I've pretty much explained everything (if you're new to my site, check out my archives!), and I'm just going to let the images speak for themselves....

Last Monday, the 9th, Tuluk took Esther and I across the bay (south) to what I call "bird land" to find eggs. It was just as cool as I remember, with birds everywhere.Above is Esther listening to the egg because we had just read the children's book, "An Egg is Quiet."Above is a goose hunkered down on her nest trying to hide from us. It is the best picture I could get, as they fly away when we get too close; so this is going to be a continuing goal of mine -- to get a better picture of a goose on a nest.Esther with a swan egg -- so huge!
Although we went fairly late, and most of the eggs had tiny bird embryos in them already, when they're scrambled up, you can't tell that the egg was developed at all. I know that might seem gross, but think about it: an egg has the same stuff in it whether it's developed or not -- it just has a different form.

We finally got out to camp! Wednesday the 11th we set up the tent and got settled out there. We had two days of amazing warm weather; we fully enjoyed our time before it got cold, rainy and windy again and we're back in the house for a few days. Here are some pictures of camp 2009: Tundra Teeter-Totter: Esther and Jasmine:Iris's first morning waking up in the tent (in her snazzy leopard-print wrap that functioned as her sleeping bag):

The weather was SO warm and fabulous that the girls and I were able to wade into the Bering! Yep, below is the proof that we're at the edge of the western world.
YES, the water was cold (especially since 10 days ago there was still ice on the beach), but nowhere near as cold as I've experienced in some mountain streams in the Rockies or such. We just kept going in and out. The girls figured out that if they covered themselves in the warm sand, they stayed warmer.. then they got in again to wash it off! Iris enjoying the beach:

We got our first fish this weekend -- chum, or dog salmon, which is what we generally use the most of. This year fishing for King Salmon, even for subsistence, is restricted in our area (though the trawlers in the ocean get to legally waste hundreds of thousands of King Salmon a year, which is why there is a shortage to begin with), and though this is a hardship for many, we are happy with any salmon we can get. Chums are fine with us. Here are pictures of Esther cutting her first fish!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Finally! An evening at the Beach

Even though I knew this year wouldn't be the most hard-core we've ever camped, since Iris is so young, I am disappointed at how long the snow has kept us from the beach and tundra. But it's also given me time to take care of projects in the house (like dealing with the fact that I pretty much stuffed everything extraneous in all the closets all year while I was working and taking care of lil' girls), and just being out of work and not having a set schedule has been so relaxing and such a relief that I've just been enjoying life -- and being thankful for the time we CAN get outside. We have our whole lives for hard core camping; we can be laid-back, take each day as it comes, and enjoy our family time no matter where it happens. The beach on June 3:

That said, we had a gorgeous beach evening this week. For Hooper Bay, it was an amazing mix of conditions: in the 50's and sunny (it's amazing how balmy that feels after weeks of 32 degrees and sleet), no wind (that never happens!), and yet still too early for mosquitos. It was Iris's first time on the beach on the outside of my body, and her dad named her after the ocean for her Yup'ik name, so he set her up on his knee and talked to her about her namesake. We watched 4 spotted seals diving and popping up very near to shore, hunting herring. Neat!
Esther and cousin Jasmine, Fancy and Draco, cavorted over the beach and dunes, squealing and woofing in delight, respectively. Fun, fun. Iris tried to figure out if she likes crawling over tundra:Hopefully this week the weather gets warmer (though Yup'ik tradtion says not to think about it, hope for it, expect it, or count on it, because that kind of arrogance, thinking that we have any sort of control over the natural world with our hopes and expectations, will NOT be rewarded. So I'm carefully stating that it would be great if the weather got nicer (that's why Yup'ik people speak conditionally about just about everything ("IF he comes," "IF I go," etc) and then I'm going to forget it and just see what happens). And if the weather decides to be cold and rainy for the next three weeks till we start our summer travels, my closets sure will be organized, and that will be refreshing and fulfilling too. :)
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