This morning a half moon hangs in the sky. I take my walk along the river at around 10 am, when the sun breaches the horizon. The river is consumed by clumps of noisy ice, bouncing and swishing in the current; the temperature is 5 below. Ice is beginning to form on the river’s edge, creating swirling patterns widening out from the bank. I walk along in the stiff morning wind, and notice snow drifts sprinkled with silt from the nearby sandy cliffs. Being alone out here in the quiet of the woods can be a very productive time for writing; I also make time to visit friends in town.
Tonight Lucille gives me a book called Our Side of the River II, by Sis Laraux who was born and raised in Akiak, a village along the Kuskokwim River. I am captivated by her stories of childhood tales and lore of Alaska and finish the book in a few hours. This leads me to a host of books on our cabin bookshelf published in 1978; each one an autobiography of an individual from a wide variety of villages, told in an oral, storytelling style (out of respect for the person’s native voice), compiled from many hours of taped interviews. They’re unedited and best read aloud so that you can listen for the sound of the spoken voice. I’ve had these books for years, and have joyously re-discovered them; autobiographies (now called “memoir”) have always been a source of great interest so off I go, reading late into the quiet night.
Lucille and Arnold are our long-time friends, of Athabascan lineage. We’ve shared a fishwheel for years, and I remember once when Arnold and my husband were building the wheel (which is constructed with two large baskets into which the fish swim), Arnold said the “Indian” side would catch more fish than the white guy’s side, and we all got a good laugh out of that. Lucille is a great cook and baker, and tonight she sends me home with a new “easy” recipe for cinnamon roles and I remember one summer evening (when the sun never sets) staying up until 2 am after harvesting fish, when we ate a whole pan of fresh baked cinnamon roles while telling stories (some comic, others tragic) of times past in the Copper River valley.
So many stories…and we’re creating our own…with the ever-turning passage of time.
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