Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cranberries anyone?

Hike on Sunday, berries on Monday—yes, things do grow up here in Alaska. In addition to a huge vegetable garden, we also have wild berries. On Monday, since we finished our other work early, we spent two hours picking wild cranberries along the roadside (i.e. along a dirt trail between the town’s two airstrips).

We found quite a number of berries, though some of them a little dusty. We picked up quite a bit of dry leaves and grass too. When we got back, Jael used the fan in the kitchen to winnow the berries, and I swept the floor after she finished.

While picking cranberries, I also learned about tundra. One more misconception: tundra is not grass, as I had thought. It looks more like a mat of pine branches. Walking in tundra feels like walking in a pile of branches one to two feet deep—fun, but awkward. It also smells like pine when you step on it, only much better, and it grows pretty much everywhere between the trees.

This is a motion picture, incidentally—which should not to be confused with a video. If you have the right technology, you can see the wind blowing the branches around. If not, you will just have to come up here sometime in September on a gray cloudy day when the wind is too strong for the planes to get out. (We had four extra guests at the lodge Monday night because the weather wouldn’t let them fly out to their own places. That kept us busy as well, rearranging the tables and getting cabins ready before the guests came.)

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