“It was good.”
Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress, via sitnews.com.
“We used to take care of the reindeer.” She repeated at the middle and end of stories, in the spaces between them. “I still think about back home.”
Every corner creased with a lifetime of laughing, celebrating a cherished memory the grandmother’s face folded softly into an ancient smile. She wore joy as effortlessly as the hair tucked expertly beneath her purple Russian scarf. Mid-sentence her face would collapse into exuberance and I was sure she was about to leap out of her chair and dance, recalling some long-buried friend or place: a whale-gut parka that kept her dry, a tricycle, an old wooden house with real glass in the window, a brother. So much peace in the comfortable way her cheeks rise to meet her eyes and embrace with more love than I think any person has ever shared, more joy than has ever been felt. So humbled by the contentedness of one blessed by the voices of ancestors in her heart, the abundance of the wild world in her blood.
Based on a presentation on reindeer herding in Kukaklek Lake by Mary Olympic and her granddaughter AlexAnna Salmon at the Alaska Anthropological Association 40th Annual Meeting in Anchorage, AK.
Learn about the history of reindeer herding in Kukaklek Lake, AK here.