Thursday, February 2, 2017

A little about my childhood

I haven't had much to blog about lately, so here is a totally different topic.

I grew up in Alaska, 32 miles out the highway from a small town of approximately 2,500 people, and 7 miles from the Canadian border.  My high school was approx. 130 students with my graduating class of 32 students (20 years later I could probably name every student in my class including their middle names).  So yeah, small Alaskan town.

I wrote this list in May 2010
Remembering Alaska
The other day a friend from elementary school posted on her Facebook page a few things she missed about Alaska and it sparked some memories of my own. I decided to jot those down. It has been 13 years since I’ve lived in Alaska. Alaska will always be home to me. Here are just a few things I remember from growing up there.

1. Really cold water straight from the tap (no need for ice cubes)
2. Sharing a phone line with 3 other neighbors (and having to get in the car to drive over to the neighbor’s when they had left the phone off the hook)
3. Being able to play outside until 10pm in the summer because it doesn’t get dark
4. Swimming holes
5. Not being able to swim in the swimming holes until your body went numb from the cold glacier water
6. Snow
7. Snow forts and snow mazes
8. “bird” size mosquitoes
9. Coming home from school and having to start the generator in below zero temperatures (it didn’t always start so easily and sometimes my fingers would go numb)
10. Getting ready for school by the light of kerosene lanterns and candles
11. Eating breakfast and drinking hot chocolate next to the wood cook stove
12. Mosquito Lake School (K-4th grade, 2 classrooms)
13. No t.v.
14. Snow days
15. Bears
16. Counting eagles on the 32 mile drive to town as a game (although most of the time it ended in an argument between my sister and I)
17. People’s addresses were in miles (I lived at Mile 32)
18. Ice fishing
19. Fire place fires
20. Snow pants, boots, jacket, gloves, and hat were just part of every Halloween costume
21. Having to drive to the neighbor’s to Trick-or-Treat because they were miles apart
22. Having a good bear dog - a dog to warn you of bears when you were outside
23. Northern Lights
24. Stars
25. Moon light reflecting off the snow
26. The absolute quiet of snow falling
27. Sledding
28. Wild strawberries
29. Blueberry picking
30. Logging roads
31. Stacking wood to heat our home for winter
32. Mountains
33. No stop lights
34. Knowing everyone in the entire high school by first and last name
35. Common question: “can I flush the toilet?”
36. Outhouses
37. The closest “neighboring” town was either a 4 hour drive into Canada or a 4 ½ hour ferry ride
38. Salmon
39. Halibut
40. Fishing
41. Camping
42. Making your Christmas Wish List from the Sears catalog
43. Having icicle sword fights
44. Painting the snow with the left-over Easter egg dye in April
45. Only one radio station and it was pretty much on all day
46. Never having to lock your house or car
47. Wild flowers
48. Taking evening drives in the fall to look for bears
49. Moose
50. The Little Red Store

Yes, I grew up stacking wood every fall with my sister.  There were many afternoons, coming home from school in the dark, in below freezing temperatures, where I had to start the generator because my mom was still at work.  Or when I was 5 and 6, before I could walk, crawling around outdoors with my friend having "adventures".  My parents eventually got me one of those battery powered vehicles to drive up and down the drive-way so I could keep up with my sister.  (Side note:  I remember when I started walking on my own, at the age of 7, I only walked at home for awhile.  I put off walking at school because I didn't want to draw attention to myself.  Before that I had used a 4 wheeled seat thing that I pushed myself along using my feet.  It was blue and I called it my "horsey".  And sure enough, one day without thinking about it, I walked down the hall, a classmate saw me, was amazed, and then the entire class was out in the hall watching me.  I was embarrassed.)

In my teens and 20's I feel like I've done things to "challenge my disability".  I've always been stubborn, persistent, and patient.  One summer in high school I went away to a college camp for 6 weeks at one of the universities, as a "practice" for college.  To see if I could handle dorm life, walking around a campus, getting food in a cafeteria setting, being away from the support of my family and friends who knew my physical abilities.  And then in my senior year of college I took a leap of faith and studied abroad in Australia for 5 month and traveled on my own.  That was an adventure, one that taught me so much.

I'd like to think that tough, independent Alaskan spirit is still in me. 

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