If I didn’t know my mother was the way that she was, I could read these words she wrote in 1959 so differently. I HATE it that my mother was so sick! This piece is one of my favorites of all the words she wrote. And, again — do YOU see a severe child abusing mother in these words she wrote? This, the healing power of that place, of that mountain, of that homestead — for my mother in ways I can never know — and for me as her victimized survivor.
Were such moments as this one (below) only rare ones in which my mother was lucid and perhaps ‘her self’? And yet even if she was IN one of ‘these moments’ in a split second, without warning, she often-usually exploded at me as a child – violently – I rarely saw it coming – and I never understood why.
December 26, 1959 Saturday
*Notes: Nice clear day, colder, no snow.
Temperature had dropped today and snow was drier and crunched beneath your feet. I like it better this way and you don’t get damp and wet-cold when it is colder like this! Today I said ‘heck with fussing around the house take a Holiday’. All of us went outside. The children are so happy to be outdoors and to have Daddy home. I decided for the first time to go off on my skis alone for awhile. Such enjoyment – nice to be off awhile by myself and I wasn’t at all afraid to ski over to the embankment overlooking the creek alone. The snow was just perfect – dry and powdery for skiing. Every little way I had to stop and gaze around at the beauty all around me.
Every time I get outside here it makes me feel so silly to worry over the little daily happenings in the bit of civilization we’ve brought up to this remote spot with us. We are but tiny ants really so insignificant – perhaps if I could see OUT of our trailer and hut I could feel this all day but I feel so shut inside the place – without windows to capture the view, even in part. The view of the water of Kink Arm is ever changing as the sun sets. One moment one of the lavender splendor and the next wreathed in rose. How close I always feel to God here. Mrs. Bockstahler referred to this place as ‘Celestial Heights’ in her recent letter and it truly is a heavenly spot.
It was a new sensation and a very nice one to make the first tracks across the white stretches of unbroken white snow in our fields. Smokey following close behind so contented and happy that we two were alone on a walk. These moments are never to be forgotten.
As I got further away from our hut and the children’s voices became fainter and fainter the moose trails became more and more frequent. As I got to the bank where I could gaze down on the still-rushing unfrozen creek down into the valley spread out below and Thomas’ homestead so tiny below me and hear their sled dogs howling echo and reecho amount the hills – the tracks were very frequent and places where they had bedded down the night before were all about me. In one place the moose droppings in its trail were still steaming. I looked about me but no moose in sight. As I absorbed the stillness and beauty about me I was once again entranced and dedicated my life to our homestead forever more – such love – no, something I can’t even call love – surged from within me – such a kinship for this strange unknown land that one would expect would frighten me and upset me by its mere isolation and coldness – instead I feel such at ONE with this place – everything about it appeals to me – oh, for words to be able to fully express the way I feel.
I only wish I never had to leave it, not even to return to the log house [in Eagle River] which holds no appeal to me.
As I skied back I kept telling myself I would find a way to remain here and watch the days now grow longer – the sky grow brighter until the snows melted and spring came again to our beloved Mt. regions – how can I leave, how can I tear myself away again – and how will I ever know a moment’s rest until this beloved land is truly ours – all ours.
I skied down below the flat land and crossed the mountainous hills below our place where it’s still heavily wooded beneath our clearings and the high Mt. peaks are almost obliterated. I like the wooded regions but once again was glad that Bill chose the open valley above to live in.
I came across one spot that made me smile and chuckle aloud. Signs before me showed a moose had hurried down the Mt. – perhaps rushing from Smokey’s bark – the snow was so deep and all it looked as if the moose had slid on its stomach and the prints were far apart. What a sight that must have been!
I would like to become more familiar with the cold quiet of the Alaskan winter days and have the time and opportunity to discover the secrets of the wild life around me. Study their tracks, their habits, etc.
In some spots my foot slipped out of the skis so my leg sank to the ground beneath me – the snow came clear to my waist and it was quite a feat to get back on the skis.
I have become so unused to outdoor exercises and so unaccustomed to manipulating skis so that by the time I came out on the road I was truly quite tired – but that nice kind of tiredness that always comes from good outdoor exercise – and such a thrill to know I had not even been off our land!!
Down at the log house I remember trying to ski about and feeling rather silly as I was in view of all my neighbors and could scarcely go 100 feet without being on someone else’s property.
As I came down the road I could see the girls playing on their snow castle. Sharon came running down the road holding her big blue balloon that Santa sent and her long blue and white stocking cap askew with the long white tassels bobbing up and down – that Grandma in California had lovingly knitted for her youngest granddaughter to keep her warm on the long Alaskan winter. Such a sweet sight and it came to me that she was everything a child should be and so completely absorbed in her own activity and so content with her childish play
It sounded so good to hear Bill about the place. I wish we could all be together for this period – like other homesteaders. This place needs a man about.
Coleman lamp to fill – already dark although only 3:00 in afternoon. Baked mince pie – all came in cold and hungry – good meal – then sat down at table in hut to try out some of games in Treasure Chest of games Mrs. Eklund sent us.
Girls put on Chinese kimonos Carolyn sent and looked so cute sitting there. We played checkers and then BINGO. It was fun and even Sharon was able to do her part – calling out to Daddy the scorekeeper. I had that number – her face beaming. Being together – how very nice!!!