The Last Frontier

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

City Folks: Observations of a Three Year Old

City
The comments on my recent post about the resourcefulness of my sons and their homemade skis and snowboard reminded me of one of our trips into Anchorage about four years ago. My husband’s brother, Chris used to live there, and we always stayed with him during our visits.

Zeke was only three years old at the time. As soon as we walked in, he began roaming around, checking out the construction of the house like a building inspector. Then, with a look of approval on his face, he said, “Uncle Chris did a very good job building this house”. I told him that someone else built the house, and then Uncle Chris bought it. He looked confused at that, but accept it. He understood that people make or produce things, sell them, and that people use money to buy things they want or need. But I think he was confused about why his uncle didn’t just build his own house like we did.

When Zeke sat down at the table that evening for supper and saw steaks, he yelled, “Oh Boy! Uncle Chris shot a moose!” When I told him it was beef, he asked what “beef” was (because he’d only had wild meat such as moose, caribou, fish, grouse, etc. up to that point in his life). When I told him that beef was the name for meat from a cow, he said, “Oh Boy! Mama shot a cow ! ! !”  I explained in simple terms, “No, someone else killed the cow, sold the meat to the grocery store, and then I went to the store and bought the meat. That’s the way things are done in the city”. He looked very disappointed as he just said, “oh” and began to eat.

The next night when he saw fish on the table, he said, “Oh Boy! Mama caught a fish!” So, I went through it again. “No, someone else caught the fish, sold it to the grocery store, and I went to the store and bought it.” Another disappointment as he quietly ate his supper.

During our last night in Anchorage, we had chicken. Same story, only this time he’d figured it out. “Oh Boy! Chicken!” But with a little question in his voice and a look of suspicion on his face, he asked, “Mama killed the chicken?” I shook my head. Then he said, sounding very sad, “I know. Someone else killed the chicken, sold it to the store, and mama went to the store and bought it.” I said, “Right”. He just looked at me, shaking his head and said, “Things sure are different in the city, aren’t they, Mama?”

When we landed at home in the bush the next day, he told Chuck all about his shocking observations. It went something like this: “Daddy, people in town aren’t like us! When they want something, they pay somebody else to make it. Why don’t they do it themselves? Did you know that Uncle Chris didn’t even build his own house?!!! He paid somebody to do that for him. People there don’t even catch and shoot their own food. They pay someone else to go fishing and hunting for them, and then they just drive to a store and buy whatever they want for supper. They don’t do anything for themselves, Daddy.”

Now that the boys are a little older, they understand things a little better, (although, to be honest, I don't think he was that far off in his assessment). It's kind of interesting to listen to young children verbalize the way they see the world.

14 comments:

Melissa said...

Good observations! We just finished listening to The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare....makes me think about how many more things I could/should make.
My kids have similar moments about other things when we go the lower 48. My kids live in town but they are Alaskanized!

umbrellalady said...

Out of the mouth of babes comes wisdom that we should all take note of.

The Last Frontier said...

Hi Melissa! Good to see you! We have that book, but have not read it yet. On the schedule in a few months. So funny about your kids. Yep, from reading your blog, it does sound like that are "Alaskanized". I like that word. :-)
Jenny

Le Loup said...

Sounds like a smart kid.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com

Gorges Smythe said...

"From the mouths of babes..."

Wendy said...

Too true! Wish it weren't that way...wish we weren't so dependent on the "chain of supply" in our world. It still amazes me you're able to live like that!

Sometime I'd love to hear your story...how you and your hubby made the move to homestead and how you learned how to do everything you do! (Have you ever thought of writing a book?? I'd be in line to get a copy. :-) )

The Last Frontier said...

Thank you all for visiting.
Wendy, so many people email and ask me exactly the same thing. "One of these days", I will sit and write a post in a nutshell. A couple of years ago, I spoke with one of the editors at Alaska Northwest Books about our idea. I was surprised that they were very interested and chatted with me for quite some time, giving me pointers. Now that our boys are getting a little older, I have more time to do things for myself, so I will have to get back on that project. Thank you for the encouragement! :)
Jenny

Carol G said...

That would be cool. How is the wood hauling coming? Do you still have enough snow on the ground? I just love this story about Zeke. I read it to my husband and he enjoyed it too.

The Last Frontier said...

Hi Carol! Good to see you. So glad your outlook is improving. That's difficult with the things going on in your world right now.
We still have lots of snow, although by early afternoon, the trails start getting soft and hard to haul logs behind the snow machine. While the boys were out "exploring" today, they found several patches of open ground on a sunny, south-facing slope that actually had a few blades of green grass and some spoonwort coming up. In one way, I can hardly wait for summer, but on the other hand, I want the snow to hold out so we can have more logs. I think we have almost enough firewood for the year and enough house logs to get about 1/3 of the house built. I'm excited!

AKmamaOf6 said...

That's amazing. Just this spring when we let out our chickens our 2-yr-old said, "papa kill the chickens?" I said, "no?". But realized that before winter when they were out last we culled our flock before winter and she remembered them being out and being butchered. At the time they were bock bocks, we had them running around and inside in the cooler, they were all bock bocks to her and she loves eating bock bocks. I love that we're choosing this life and you are sharing yours.

Anna

The Last Frontier said...

Hi Anna. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. That's cute. I'm glad more people are choosing to do the same.

Cathy said...

And vice versa, I guess. Sounds like a wonderful growing up experience..especially for your boys.

Anthony said...

This is a pretty adorable story. It's really cool that your kids had never eaten anything but wild meat up to that point in their lives, and presumably have only had store-bought meat once in a while?

Sarah S. said...

You are a woman with a spine of steel! Ive never hunted my own meat, and buy most of my drinks from Starbucks. Reading your blog makes me wonder, " Could I survive a month in your world?"

Your life is harder, but far more beautiful than most. Congratulations on actually living, when so many others just dream of it.

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