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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why the Bush?

I was thinking about this question today and remembered an article on adn. The author was talking about the hopes of one group to improve the retention of teachers in rural Alaska. You can read my thoughts in the comments below the article. Basically, I shared what I believe lies at the heart of the teacher turnover conundrum in Alaska. 
So why am I going back? I have read many books over the years about Alaska, Nick Jans and George Guthridge among my favorites. Recently though, I read Steve Kahn's The Hard Way Home... If you've ever wondered what life in Alaska can be like outside of Anchorage, it's a must read.
The descriptions of the crisp, cold, fog-filled mornings on the tundra raise the hairs on my arms. I miss the quiet of "God's country." I miss the peace and serenity of watching mighty rivers flow by without a human in sight. The feelings that well up in me when I remember watching the sunrise over a frost-covered horizon with no sound whatsoever are overwhelming. Watching the wind blow the grasses and brush as far as the eye can see, this pristine, fluid canvas only interrupted by the playful grizzly cubs with their mother, is a truly one of a kind experience. 
I yearn for the ability to feed myself from nature's bounty. Fishing for the tastiest salmon the Earth has to offer, iksuq-ing for smelts through a hole on the top of a frozen pond, or harvesting eels from the Yukon will soon occupy my free time. I will glorify the Creator as I take a caribou, moose or black bear to fill my freezer. Each hormone-free, no-preservatives-added, free range bite will satisfy me on a level far deeper than the satiation of hunger. 
Will I be able to waste $20-$100 a week on dates that don't go anywhere? No. Will I be able to drink a beer, wine or cocktail 3-4 nights a week? No. Will I be able to blow money on clothes, window coverings, or gas just because I am bored? No. 
I will pour myself into the communities of the Lower Yukon and make their struggles my own. I will focus on my work, make new friends, and take up old habits. I'll read more and listen to stories...

Maybe I'll start carving, drawing, and writing again... 

...I think that about answers it...