Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's a Dog's Life

Or, why I live in Alaska

This is Miss H----. Not being the brightest bulb in the chandelier, she is eager to be sitting the truck (because even in her sled dog brain, truck = go somewhere fun), but she is also very worried, because trucks are scary things, especially truck roofs - she is quite certain they can fall in and crush a dog.

It being a fine Interior mid-summer morning, the brown dogs (2) and I headed to our favorite hiking spot just a bit before noon. Despite late night plans to get an early start, that, also in typical midsummer Alaskan fashion didn't happen either, or maybe it is just that when you have sun nearly 24, getting going at just about noon is an early start in the AM.


Anyhoos, here is why I live in Alaska.


Just 3o miles north of town, and one can head out and overlook hills that go on and on and on. And if one squinches up their eyes, one could almost mistake these for the Blue Ridge mountains of Appalachia - and think this must of been sorta what it was like, oh, a hundred years ago before exurbs piled upon suburbs; before cloverleaves and interstates, before big box junk and Burger Kings and mountaintop removal.


Today's count of critters in a four-hour span? Three dogs (two of them mine), five other humans, six if you count me, and one bear. Oh, the bear wasn't in his tracks when I came across them, but they were spanking fresh tracks. If there was one thing useful I learned from my stint with he-who-shall-not-be-named, it was how to track animals and how to tell just how fresh the tracks are. These were fresh. Very fresh. Dogs and I decided to choose an alternate route - better for us, better for bear.

Brown dogs and I were happily home and drinking coffee and chewing flip chips (I leave the asute reader to sort out who was doing what) when the afternoon thunder storms hit - safely off the ridgelines. Excellent timing too, as the home-made rainwater tank (salvaged wood from the dumpster, lined with a blue tarp - natch - holds 300 gallons) had been drained dry this AM doing minimal sustenance watering of the garden (at $0.10/gallon, tanked water is not watering the garden this year!). Now garden is good and soaked, rain tank is filled, and brown dogs are happy and tired.

Only bummer in the day so far was discovery of the aftermath of a fish fight in the fish tank; one was down and rudderless with its tail bitten off... so it was the green net of death for that one.

3 comments:

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Sushi...?

mrs. sarah ott said...

i like how you said "the bear wasn't in his tracks" at the time, lol. definetly digging your cool alaskan life. makes me really want to get out of town.

Paul Adasiak said...

"... this must of been sorta what it was like, oh, a hundred years ago before exurbs piled upon suburbs; before cloverleaves and interstates, before big box junk and Burger Kings and mountaintop removal."

This wholesale landscape destruction and collapse of quality built environment only began with the popularization of automobiles. With no automobiles, there would be only rail suburbs, and all our construction would be much more human-scaled -- more attractive and better for community.

The tool that made the degradation of the human and natural environments possible is the same tool that allows you to escape 30 miles north of town.

I'll confess that I occasionally need to take a drive out of town, and there are a few really good drives around Alaska that I love to take: the Richardson Highway through Thompson Pass and Keystone Canyon, for example. But the tool that gives me easy access to them also makes my town a sprawling, suburban blight, as far as the human environment is concerned.

Wouldn't you rather we lacked the means to get to remote places, that they remained difficult to reach, if it meant we designed human settlements to meet the needs of people rather than automobiles?