Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bear Neighbors

Piquing a bear's curiosity
Living on the far side of three, bridgeless rivers,  we are less concerned about human intruders than ursine ones.  In fact, we don't even have locks on our cabin. This reflects one aspect of “bush protocol” which is that if an honest person  needs to get into your cabin while you are gone it might be for a really serious reason.  In fact, a friend with a remote cabin taped to the inside of her  door a note with her name and home phone number, saying that a lost or endangered wanderer is welcome to use supplies in the building but when home, safe and sound, please let her know what has been used up.  

An alert  visitor to our home might notice that our entrances are constructed differently than city ones.  In town, home and hotel door hinges are attached INSIDE the door, away from the prying tools of bad guys. By contrast, our hinges hang on the EXTERIOR because we aren't worried about visitors with opposable thumbs.  Rather, we are trying to deter 300-700 lb hairy bruins inclined to shove in a weak door. With four inch thick doors that open outward, and a sturdy  doorstop inside the doorjam, we hope to retard the forward momentum of a foraging bear.
A bear's goal of attack; the food shed

Windows are obviously more fragile than doors. Next to each of our entrances is a double sheeted plate glass window.  I don't kid myself - the big 4x5 picture window in front is vulnerable.  I just hope that its position,  up eight steps and 8 feet above ground level evades detection.  Besides, neither porch window opens, and therefore neither emits any beckoning scents.  One time, a bear did indeed lumber up onto my back porch, bump against the door, stand up and look in the high window above my stove, eye level with me (inside).  However, it was my banging on the window that attracted her curiosity, rather than encouraging her departure, as intended.  My bad. 

Another friend described a sight I would have loved to see (from a distance.)  He was inside his cabin when a bear ambled up to a low window and peeked in.  The light was such that instead of seeing the interior, the animal viewed the reflection of a very close bear looking right back!  Outta there!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weather Trumps Everything in Rural Living (Alaska): Enjoy it!

One of the things I like best about living in a climate with rapid seasonal variations is the constant “use it or lose it” lessons in appreciation.  Everything changes so fast here that I can only “see these beauties” or “do those activities” at specific times of year, some as brief as a week.  Miss it?  Wait a year!  So, we have no “mañana, mañana” attitude.    This fact contributes a celebratory immediacy to waking up every single day.   Below are seasonal notes for our home, at Latitude 61, in Southcentral Alaska.

View across the lake in winter

Temperatures:  Normal:  -20 F - +20 F, November - March

Transportation:  Ski plane and snowmachines, snowshoes, cross country skis, bunny boots

Beauty: A silent, black and white world

Favorite images:  heavy snow coating tree branches and buildings; lacy ice halos on birch canopies; the aurora borealis, our log cabin puffing birch smoke from the chimney.

Animals:  Audible/ visible owls, eagles, and ravens, and coyotes.  We see tracks of quieter animals in the woods, like martins, hares, foxes.  Once a lynx (I think).

Favorite activities:
Outdoors: Snowshod and booted walks, cross country skiing, snowmachine treks through the pretty woods and across frozen lakes and bogs,  tracking animals, seeing dog mushers and moose, ice fishing picnics, grooming trails, beautiful regional flights.
Indoors:  no urgency to leave during three day snowstorms or deep cold and dark; starting seeds on every window ledge as I plan the gardens, on-line classes and book immersion.