Opening day at Toolik and two scientists arrive with video cameras to shoot the day the squirrels arise from their slumber and thaw out. It's 45 degrees out, sunny, a slight breeze. Perfect tanning weather. A good day to do some shoveling. Before you open any door you have to first shovel away what's in front of it, and in this case, it's snow.
On a mental-heart-spiritual level I've shoveled away the sadness and stress of being away from my wife and baby in order to open myself up. A few nights ago I almost tossed the towel in and thought of starting all over again just to be next to girls, physically, but reached above for guidance in a last attempt to make a go of this. I was reminded that I am me and this cloud around is 'I against I'. I must take care of my needs on all levels before I can engage in my families. But, first I had to find what it was I was needing. For one, I have only a few hundred bucks in the bank and that's not a whole lot to support a family. Two, the hardships of giving up a dream job in Hawaii and returning to the city world to rethink life over, then getting tossed up in no man's land Alaska to cook for 150... has taken a toll on my body and mind. Adaptation to the new environments requires complete openness of the human being, and I have been closed in, too focused on the future and past to know who I am, right here, right now.
To sum it up, I just faced the pits of culture shock. Thankfully, my past experiences with traveling the globe and facing death have given me a rock to stand strong on. This jab of culture shock only last a week and took a few nights of tears and letter writing. It's okay to cry guys, it's a good release and can make things come to baseline much quicker versus holding it in. Try cutting an onion ;)
I've kicked off this blog again to keep up writing and photography, and am looking at the caribou antlers in the tundra and wondering what sort of jewelry I can make wit them. Art.
Get this gunk out of the depth of my soul I tell ya! It started with a shovel, sunshine and headphones. I dug away at all the doors for hours each day rocking out to dub tunes mixed in with old school hardcore rock n' roll that I used to listen to university. It gets the testosterone pumping. The sun provides good juice, too. I also made a commitment to myself for this summer to eat the most healthiest I ever have, that means no desserts, no extra sugars in anything, little salt, no bad fats, no chips, no soda, no juice, a small amount of fruit (fruits have sugar and if you want vitamin C eat a potato), no condiments except those that are simple like the hot sauces that have only four basic ingredients and no excess sugar or salt, and no alcohol since that has lots of sugar in it. Riding a spike in blood sugar levels causes the body and brain to seek out a routine of ups and downs, cravings and pleasures. Enough of that. I want smooth sailing and clear thinking. My diet so far has been lots of kale, spinach, lettuce, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, plain granola, unsweetened yogurt, salmon, steak, chicken, potatoes, rice, fruit smoothie and the occasional egg. The perfect 'from the land' diet to prepare for when the time comes when I can farm again. This diet plus at least a half hour of yoga and stretching, plus an hour of exercise and over 10 hours of dancing in the kitchen, plus at least a steady 7 hours of sleep... is it. Feels like it's been a decade since I've hit this level of physical being. I'm burning off the stress belly fat, my skin is looking healthier and I have endless stamina. Now that the body is on a good path my emotions, hormones and thoughts are starting to balance out.
Here's some of the work... shoveling out the doorways to the weatherport tents that the kids will sleep in.
I'm trying to create a pineapple nursery in my room. No luck so far.
Jump on a bike sled and let's head to the main station.
This is the gateway to the Toolik headquarters.
Inside is the dining room.
Looking out the dining room windows. I notice they built decks onto the dining hall, good call, except what about the mosquitoes?
This is the hangout room next to the main dining room that T and I hang out in. We talk about my friend Pat who was here last year and gossip about the basics of life. Sometimes I catch my wife online at the same time as me during lunch break and it takes my mind off the kitchen and really chills me out. It's the best time of day.
At the headquarters entry there is a board with everyone's face and name on station. Right now I think there's 10 of us. Next week it will be 30 and only up from there.
We have only two scientists, the squirrel people.
The kitchen is fun. Good guys and gals. I think I'm 20 years younger than everyone else in there, but eh, what's age matter? Chef cooked up these cheesy kale chips today. Amazing.
I have a bathroom locker in the building next to the headquarters. Just like high school.
Here is a Q & A on the back of the bathroom door for the newbies. Check out the last question.
Elsewhere around Toolik there's still lots of work to be done to get this puppy ready.
I helped dig out the entries to the main labs and went inside, curiously, like a cat, to see what scientists do.
Fresh boxes of supplies, ready to be opened and used by the users.
Lots of stuff that I have no clue does what, goes where, or why?
Someone left a furry duct tape bra on the mason jar rack... why?
Bones, rocks, speakers, knives, chemicals, sunglasses, rubber bands... oh the life of science.
Here I am. Somewhere.
Toolik Lake, still frozen and waiting to cracked open and penetrated by scientists.