Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thinking High Thoughts About Literature

About a year ago, after taking a class on literary criticism, I created my own literary theory.

A couple of my instructors had pointed out that heroes in epic literature tend to be ‘a representative hero,’ a character who somehow embodies his society’s basic types and tendencies. I noticed another trend in these heroes, though, and decided to write a poem about it.

Rules for a Representative Hero

Amid the metaphors
And sweeping action,
All the epic heroes are farm boys.
See them climb to greatness
By way of their pitchforks.

Odysseus was plowing
Before he was drafted,
And Telemachus only wanted
To protect his herds.
(Penelope could spin her own webs—
He just cared about his pigs.)

Before St. George won the white horse
And the fairy lady,
He was a plowboy, breaking sod.

To those who say the villain
Was Milton’s hero—
Satan never grew anything.
It was Christ who planted the garden.

Then there’s Westley, if you please,
And Luke and Sam were heroes too—

Yes, Luke Skywalker,
Fixing droids for fieldwork,
And a gardener’s nothing if not a farm boy.

Displaced, unrecognized, perhaps,
But a dirt-loving, dirt-moving,
And altogether unnoticed, unheroic, epic farm boy.

Of course, the poem now has a different connection. May I remind you that I spent the last two months working at The Farm Lodge? At the lodge, we heard the radios squawk half-a-dozen times a day: “Farm guys, do you copy?”, “Farm girls, you have a fuel customer.”

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Turnings and Returnings

So I’m back.

Actually, I’ve now been back for a full week. I flew into Eugene last Friday about 7 p.m., my family met me at the airport, and we drove out to a pizza place for dinner. We had to wait over an hour before our pizza finished baking, but we had plenty to talk about, as you might imagine.

Friday, on the flight home, especially from Port Alsworth to Anchorage, I took some lovely mountain-and-snow-and-cloud photos. Unfortunately, I left my camera (maybe on the plane?) in Seattle. I’ve tried several times, but I still can’t remember whether I left the camera on the plane or carried it off and set it down later. I’ve been hoping Alaska Airline would call to say they’ve found it, but by now, that’s not likely. The only pictures you get are these, therefore:

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The clock is ticking, the plane is waiting…

But last night we had time for a walk over the river (though dry), and through the woods...

...down to the beach for a little fishing and s’mores by the fire.

Too many clouds for a sunset, but the night before was gorgeous.

And there's rain today, just to make sure I'm ready for Oregon!

Friday, October 7, 2011

6 Days, 23 Hours

I packed my bags today, and I'm heading out.

No, I’m not headed home quite yet. Not for another week. But we’ve been working very hard the past few days to close down the lodge for the winter. We have our two last guests tonight, and when they leave tomorrow, we’ll clean the cabins one more time, package the bedding into plastic garbage bags, and turn out the lights. Then Andy, our handyman, will empty the fuel out of the heaters and drain all the water from the pipes—it takes a lot of work to get things ready for 40-below weather.

Meanwhile, at the lodge, we’ve been cleaning out cupboards and packaging up food. Breakfast tomorrow morning will be out last meal here. After breakfast, we’ll be eating at Jael’s house for the next week until we leave. The other girls and I are moving over there too, since we won't have water in the lodge after Sunday.

The pantry downstairs looks very empty now, even with a few bins with food that won’t freeze over the winter…

…Jell-O boxes, for example.

These days, the light goes pretty quick as well. At eight, when I went down to close our gift-shop for the night, the mountains were glowing with fresh snow, but everything else was dark. That means it’s right about time to head home now, I think.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Puh-TAY-Tuhs, as they say in Montana

Tuesday evening this week, I felt like I had done push-ups all day.

No, I did not start on a new, vigorous exercise routine. It’s just that we spent most of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—from 10 am to about 4 pm—digging potatoes in the lodge's garden. We had twelve rows to dig, each about 150 to 200 feet long.

Now, we had intended to wait until the plants froze, but we only had one guest on Monday and none on Tuesday or Wednesday, so we needed something to keep us busy. And we were very close to frost by Monday, anyway.