We have a midnight sun because this is our largest harvest season besides the fall time, when we hunt Caribou and Moose. This is our Sea Mammal harvest time and when you get 1 or 2 or 3 ugruk, you have to stay up ALL FREAKING night to take care of it.
Especially when its just you. And don't even get me started on BELUGA! They are HUGE!
I remember a few years ago, my "uncle" (he's not REALLY my uncle, but we call him UNCLE!) called me and said, "I got your beluga."
Huh??!?!? You got my WHAT!?
He got me a beluga. And it was ready to be taken care of. Right now. At 8:00 at night. After my softball game. Immediately.
So, like a good little Eskimo, I went 8 miles out of town and fully expected my husband to be out there with me cutting and gutting and cutting and cutting some more until we were done. Well, he was a medevac pilot at that time and GUESS WHAT. BRIIIIiIIiIIiIiiiiIING! Phone call.
Medevac to Anchorage. That means a 6 hour trip and he had 30 minutes to get there. So, he did what any other guy would do. He left me there. Alone. With a knife. And my softball shoes.
To cut my beluga. By MYSELF. And I did. for 8 straight hours I cut and cut and cut, until someone happened by at 8 am and said, "Hi Maija...you need help!?" I said, "DOES IT LOOK LIKE I NEED HELP!?"
Paulette Kavraq'ing (Yes I just put an English suffix on an Eskimo word!)
So he called my aunts and they all came rushing. Like family should IF I had a cell phone to call them.
Anyway, every year my other "Uncle" gets me an Ugruk. My husband can't "hunt" marine mammals and I'll be damned if I am not eating that stuff. So, they hunt for me. Cause we do that, we take care of each other.
This year was no exception. My uncle called and "the Ugruk Fairy had arrived." With an 8 foot MONSTER!!! Dangit and I still had to work. And cook and take care of my family.
THUS THE REASON we have a Midnight Sun. Because when the kids aren't asking questions and flies aren't buzzing around us and work doesn't beckon, then we can ENJOY the midnight sun at 2:00 am and cut our Ugruk in PEACE!
I love the midnight sun. I can sleep in the sun, shade, dark, light, floor, couch, chair, plane, work (oops) thanks to the sun. I can sleep anywhere. People take years to get used to it, but not me. When the sun is out I have more energy (to cut for six hours a night and then get up and go to work the next morning) and I'm not too tired! (Usually!)
So, I figured that a long time ago, before full time jobs for mom's they stayed up and kavraq'd and cut blubber and stirred their oil and dried their meat and hung their muktuk all night long, cause it was light out and they could.
Beluga Brain in a Bucket. Pretty good all Boiled up with salt.
For the past several days I have stayed up until about 4:00 am cutting, flipping, boiling, vac sealing, kavraq'ing, slicing, and eating Ugruk and Beluga. I put away at least three packages per month in our freezer so I know I can eat beluga and/or Ugruk at least three times a month until next year.
Then I also put away about the same amount of extras that say, "EXTRA" so I can give it away, send it to potlucks, friends, elders, and the sort. My husband travels to the villages to talk to Elders and he always takes beluga and ugruk to them. And then he comes back fat.
But I love him. He likes to share and make elders happy. Me too. We like to share. He doesn't actually "Work" on Ugruk or Beluga though. He just chops the stuff we need chopped with an axe and then gets rid of the carcass and bones when we are done taking all the meat off. And that's fine with me. Cause that's nasty work.
Little girls work. Cutting the red stuff off the blubber so your oil isn't yellow!
Last night after the girls went to bed, I got stuck doing "little girls" work. Cutting the blubber into strips to put into the buckets that will render down to make oil. LITTLE girls work. I swear it was cause my BFF Paulette was here and telling me what to do. haha. No complaints though.
And then that same "uncle" well, not really him, but my other friend Kookie, they caught a Beluga in a net and we rushed through my ugruk and ran down to the beach to help take care of the beluga.
After 2:30 in the morning we were done with a beluga. Record time. Many hands make small work, or whatever that saying is!!! And now THIS YEAR, I have beluga, Ugruk and HOPEFULLY seal oil. (I'm not the BEST seal Oil maker!!! I'll admit that.)
And when my baby sister's friend goes to visit her, she will have Ugruk and Beluga and Seal Oil too. Cause that's what we do. Take care of each other. Did I already say that?
Well it's true. What's up in YOUR neck of the woods! (or willows, since we have no trees here!)