Now, I’ve already stated that Sarah’s reality (which is really no reality at all) is as much fun as an awful “C” level sci-fi movie. Replete with all the just visible wires upon which hang the saucers from outer space.
But on Sarah’s pretend “goin’ a caribou huntin’ show” we met a woman who simply sticks in the synapses of our mind. Susan, you see, lives at 69.4N x 146.54W. That, to you urbanites is NORTH of the Arctic Circle. She lives there in a camp called the Kavik River Camp.
The closest city is Fairbanks, only 500 miles to the South. The nearest road is EIGHTY miles to the East. The runway is 1.5 miles long. The camp looks like a series of storage containers like they lift onto cargo ships.
People go there to hunt and fish and observe wildlife. Susan makes a living “hosting” such groups, with hot showers and grub. She has WiFi, which she “hauled in” some time back. She heats with fuel oil, and has some to spare for hunting groups. She has a vein of coal that she mines for additional fuel.
She carries a rifle wherever she goes, since bears abound. She would know. One attacked her, biting her up badly enough that she had to stitch her own head back together. She got another weapon and went out and killed the bear. Then she made her way to shelter and waited ten days for a pilot to come in and get her the rest of medical help she needed.
When her hip was displaced, she somehow managed to tie a rope around her ankle, and tie it off on a beam and haul herself upside down, and then hang from the bad leg until it dropped back into its socket.
Did I mention she lives alone? Did I mention that for six months out of the year, she lives ALONE, without a single soul for company. EVER. Except for the occasional radio contact with a passing plane.
Did I mention she is a grandmother?
Did I mention she lives alone?
People like Sue dumbfound me. They really do. I ponder them, and I can’t, in the end, ever come to understand.
What kind of person finds this a joyous way of life? Who choses this?
The easy answer is no doubt that such a person, somehow psychologically, doesn’t “fit” in normal social society. They are the extreme trappers, intrepid wanderers. But they are also the utterly consumed-by-their-subject, butterfly enthusiasts, or blue-footed boobie world experts.
Folks like this are capable of sustained interest, bordering on the shocking, on one subject. They are people who never much stop to think about being alone, isolated, or one-dimensional. They don’t have any use for malls, parties, friends, fashion, or much of anything outside their passion.
They can eat the same drab food weeks on end. Possessions are accounted as valuable only if useful. No figurines, no art work, no comforts of home. They are not impressed with “snuggies” or “heart” pendants, or Prius.
They are not like us in hardly any way.
Sue, spends I would guess, a goodly portion of her day, surviving. I have no idea if she gets mail drops or food drops.
We are all too familiar with a type of man who does this. Hermits. In the “olden” days, they were the trappers who only came into “town” to sell their pelts before going back out to their isolated worlds. Perhaps the adventurer, the explorer might be added, but they seldom went off alone. But women doing this? I can’t think of one, other than that woman, who used to win the Iditarod, Karen I believe. But even she got married and had kids and lived with her family.
Imagine such a life–if you can. I can, to a point, and then, well, it soon loses it idyllic tones. You remember that in a medical emergency, the simplest of problems could be life-threatening. Beautiful landscapes cannot be shared.
Sue now has Internet access. I’d dearly love to see her write a blog. How interesting would that be? I’m going to e-mail her and ask her to consider it.
I admire her. I couldn’t do what she does. Even in my younger, as the Contrarian would say, ‘greener” days, I could not have done it. I can stand a fair amount of isolation, but eventually the loneliness would have gotten me.
How ’bout you? Would this intrigue you? Or get you racing for the mall for safety?
- Palin And The Caribou (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)