Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gaining Light and Other Updates

So the Spring Equinox has passed us by and we are on the upswing of light.  This may seem like an easier thing to adjust to than loosing all light but in all honesty, it is WAY harder!  Why you ask, well think about sleep schedules to start with.  We went from it being dark all the time to having more light than we are used to back in PA at any point of the year.  The sun is rising around 7am and sets a little before 10pm at this point.  It really messes with the internal clock.  I find that I am shocked by the time of night just about every night.  The other night was a classic example of this.  Andrew and I had just finished dinner (mind you we don't get to eat till after he gets home from work at about 730pm or 8pm) and were getting ready to sit down to watch a movie.  I happened to look at the clock and explaimed, "Holy cow it's 930 already?!"  Andrew simply looked over and said, "Yup."  Then we both laughed.  This is the kind of thing that keeps messing with my mind with this added light.  Mind you there is still snow on the ground so my brain keeps saying the sun should be gone by 6pm not 9pm! 

But while the increased daylight is very difficult to adjust to it also has a lot of advantages.  We can take walks after dinner and not have to take flashlights with us and not be worried of wild animals as much.  It also means that we don't have to spend as much in electricity since we don't have to have as many lights on.  It makes most people happier (but also means that children have A LOT more energy).  The biggest advantage to more daylight, SNOW MELT!  (We just hope this doesn't happen too fast cause we don't want flooding.)  And just as PA has Phil, we have river breakup.  We haven't had this yet (which is good) but I have been told there is nothing quite like it.  Most people describe the noise that it makes and how neat it is to watch.  I am looking forward to witnessing this natural phenomenon.

So I know there has been quite a gap in posts, and for those that have been waiting to hear more news from the north, I apologize.  Things have been VERY busy here this last month.  The craziness started with spring inservice.  Andrew got to join me with the dogs for the first half of the week so it was nice to get some time away from the village together.  After inservice, I was co-teaching a session at the Voc Ed for middle school students on digital media and career exploration.  It was a lot of fun but very exhausting as well.  After this I spent the next week getting things prepared for our Skills Academy (a class at the Voc Ed to help students in passing the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam - HSGQE).  The following week was the Skills Academy.  I spent the week in Arctic Village teaching classes for the teacher that came down to teach the Skills Academy.  I came home for Sunday and then turned around and headed back out Monday for Chalkyitsik.  I returned on Tuesday and have been madly trying to get the Career Pathways trip together that will be happening at the end of April.  This whole week has also been Spring Carnival here in Fort Yukon. 

While I was in Arctic I had some new experiences as usual.  I got to play radio bingo.  Ok so I have to explain this cause it is truly unique and a total blast! Everyone in the village has two-way radios and that is pretty much the communication system for the village as many homes still do not have phones.  So every evening, it's time for Bingo.  You hear on the radio "Bingo players time to get your cards."  And then the craziness begins.  You call in (on the radio of course) that you want to play.  When they have enough players to have the game they send out a runner on snow machine (4-wheeler in the summer) and they bring you your cards for the evening.  Then, once all the cards have been taken out to those playing, you sit at home and listen to the radio for the bingo calls.  If you get bingo you simply call out on the radio.  They send the runner to your house with your prize if you win a round.  It takes quite a while but is totally fun.  No I didn't win anything but I had a great time playing.

The last night I was in Arctic I got to help butcher caribou.  Well I got to take pics while three of the ladies did the butchering cause there wasn't enough room to add me.  It was a really unique experience and very interesting to watch.  Unlike butchering that I am used to, there isn't really any rules to this process here.  Basically the meat is cut from the bones (leaving a good bit on the leg bones for soup later) and separated into two kinds of meat, frymeat and drymeat.  I haven't really been able to tell much of a difference between the two kinds but the ladies butchering knew so all was good.  Since I was there with them during this, they gave me some of the caribou to take home (we had a very yummy dinner on Sunday... just ask Andrew).

So this week has been carnival.  It's not like a carnival that we are used to back in PA.  Actually it is quite different.  There are all kinds of activities that are related to winter but no games like we are used to in PA, but that is quite ok.  There are snow machine races, snow-shoeing competitions, other silly races that are just fun cause they are hard to do in the snow, and of course basketball tournaments.  The biggest part of the carnival is the dog races.  The final race is a two day Men's Dog Race.  They race 28 miles each day.  It's amazing to watch cause it only takes them about an hour to go 28 miles!  There were 7 teams this year and after hearing and seeing the excitement of the dogs for our little race I can only imagine what it is like for the Ididerod with over 60 teams.  This was quite the talk yesterday as the winner won by 1 second over the 2 days combined and what made this even more the topic of conversation was that the second place man was our local 2012 Ididerod musher! 

So that's been my month.  The next month is no slower.  I leave for Stevens Village on Monday for the week to do the state testing with the students there.  I come home for a few days and then head out on the 12th for Anchorage for a few days.  I come back to head out again for the Culture Camp in Arctic.  I literally come home from this and turn around and go to Fairbanks for Career Pathways for the week.  Then I finally get to come home.  I will be home for a total of 9 days in April if I go on all these trips so it is going to be incredibly busy!  I don't know yet what May holds for me but as of right now I don't have to travel until we come back to PA unless I am to go to the village graduations.  It's definitely going to fly by.