Saturday, June 23, 2007

the youngest researcher

ok, i've got exactly one day between field trips to get this post out before i'm on to new adventures, so forgive anything here that may seemed rushed! we just returned from St. Mary's, a Yup'ik village on the Andreafesky River, a tributary to the Yukon in its lower reaches near the mouth.

"We" is a gang of 4 doing some research on local knowledge of salmon: me, Tori, Catherine, and her daughter, Savonnah, the 4th and youngest member of our crack research team. Savonnah is about 14 months...i'm dying to knit something for her now that i've spent a week with her. cute as a bug and 'full of beans' as her mother says!

that's the little stinker reaching for freshly hung salmon fillets - more on those later...

St. Mary's is a cool little place - about 550 souls - that combine subsistence and commercial fishing (for salmon) to make a living. we got there during the first pulse of salmon to enter the river. so we saw a lot of this:

cutting fish by the river bank

and this:

stretching salmon fillets that have been scored to hang and dry for winter use

and this:

salmon strips hanging in a smokehouse to dry - pictures do not do this sight justice. salmon strips literally drip oil as they dry and are among my favourite foods...

we also saw a lot of net repairing going on. St. Mary's residents catch most of their salmon using gill nets, and specifically drift gill nets, where the nets are set out of a boat in the middle of the river and the net and boat drift downriver with the current for a spell before being hauled back in, hopefully full of fish!

ever wonder where the fish you buy in the grocery store comes from? chances are, if you're buying fresh Yukon River king salmon, this is where! this is the dock of the Boreal Fish Processor in St. Mary's - many of the commercial king salmon pass through this dock.

with dirt roads and a little rain, a village can be a muddy place. we found this sign on an elder's door - i'm thinking of making one for myself! now, if i could only teach Nuchie to read...

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