Hello internet! It’s been a couple of crazy weeks since I last wrote. I was a little bit busy having a baby, and learning how to keep him alive while only half awake myself. Fortunately I had my amazing mother fly all the way out to Alaska, first to Anchorage and then out to the village with my husband, new baby and I. It has been a hazy time filled with laughter, tears, and clichés. 🙂
I never expected anyone from my family to come visit us out in the bush. In fact, for the most part, I don’t recommend it. There isn’t much to do out here, and with the price of airline tickets I think it’s a much better idea to meet up somewhere tropical. However, with the birth of her first grandchild, my mother would have it no other way and I was so relieved to have her here, guiding my husband and I through those crazy first days.
Mom left the village today, starting her almost day and a half journey through five different airports back to New York. I’m really sad to see her go, but know that we will visit again over Christmas, and really I call her almost every day anyway!
While she was here I was excited to share not only the new baby but also some of the local culture with her. We were fourtuante enough to attend a feast in the village on Sunday. This feast was held for two of the boys who had their first moose this year. I was very excited for them, as they are some of my favorite kids in the village, and it is always nice to go to a happy feast.
While we were there, Baby Emmett received his Yupik name. Both my husband and I received Yupik names last year, and knew that it was only a matter of time before baby got one as well. His Yupik name was passed down to him from a girl who passed away last month. Her family member was so filled with joy to see a new baby to give the name to, and it really touched me as well. I think it is amazing to keep names alive in this way, and really honor those who have come before us. It is a way of keeping in touch with those we lose. His given name is Anguuq (pronounced like ung-ook). It doesn’t have a ‘meaning’ or English translation, but I love it, and all the history behind it.
After the feast, the family was having a ‘throw party’. Throw parties are more of a coastal village tradition that goes hand in hand with seal hunting, so I had never attended one. I was excited to share this new experience with my mom. It was cold and started to rain icy pellets from the sky part way through, but it was still a good time.
The two boys kicked off the event by tossing out stuffed moose to the women gathered below. Only women participate in the throw. After they tossed those out, they began throwing all sorts of other items off the roof. It was exciting, and a little dangerous (have you ever had a package of clothespins thrown at you? They hurt to catch with half frozen hands!) but I had a great time. All the items thrown are useful in some way, especially when you don’t have access to larger stores. Plates, socks, wash clothes, cups, cooking utensils, and laundry baskets among other things rained down with the sleet.
Overall, I think my mom had a good couple of weeks visiting, and we will miss her a lot- and not just because she did my laundry!