Stop and Smell the Lichen
by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson
Lemmings don't really have names. Instead, as you can imagine, we have a set of complex scents we carry with us to identify ourselves to each other. Pockets of aromatic air that if translated would be paragraphs and paragraphs of information and history-and maybe even tiny lemming thoughts.
I am such a lemming. A northern arctic cousin of the mouse. And my name. Well my name is...Want.
It's not a normal lemming name, not a normal lemming scent. It's a mixture of so many smells and so many places and so many experiences that it speaks of only one thing-want. The need to explore, to be something different. To search, to reveal, to examine.
Today I was close to starving. Spring had finally arrived, bringing with it that span of days when the food is scarce. The winter food stores I had carefully hidden were drained, and the sun, still heavy from sleep, hadn't gotten around to melting the snow fully and coaxing the plants to awaken. So I decided to check the food burrows that I keep for emergencies, far from my usual haunts.
It was a long journey. And it took me
I do it only for my own sanity! I thought it would be neat to post some info and a couple photos of various plants I am learning about. This is not going to be gospel people, I am not a scientist or expert on herbal anything and I m not diagnosing a darn thing. Insert your expected disclaimer here.
This post is about Fireweed. Also known as Epilobium Angustifolium and in Inupiaq, quppiqutaq. this is one of those plants that I am really enjoying getting to know. It grows all across Alaska, but for some reason I do not remember seeing it growing up on the coast (it's not really found in the northern parts of AK either). When I first moved here I was blown away by how showy and large and vibrant the flowers were, and for some reason it struck me as just being 'pretty.' But I was wrong!
This plant got it's name because it usually the first thing to grow in a place that has just been burned by fire. The young shoots that grow are usually a purplish color and are eaten in salads, fried, steamed, or traditionally here dipped in seal oil. Traditionally these
I literally worried over what to plant in my garden for a couple of long excruciating months. I dreamt about it. I drew layout after layout of what plants and what type of container would go where into my imaginary garden, and how I could rotate them year after year. I read everything I could get my hands on, from every topic you could think of; from soil conditions to homemade fertilizer to seed saving techniques, to preservation techniques, to studies done on what varieties to plant in the arctic. I guess I am a bit of control freak when I enter into any new area of experience. I go from teenage first-kiss-giddiness to an absolute certainty that I will totally and utterly fail at anything having to do with plants. I haven't been this excited about anything since I bought my first supplies for my perfume line.
I recommend that everyone go through this type of experience at least once a year!
So what did I choose to plant? I plan on growing oats in much of my available space. I jokingly tell family and friends that I want to eat after the great zombie invasion but really it's
Stop and Smell the Lichen
Nasugraq Rainey Hopson is a Inupiaq Eskimo woman who lives in the Brooks range mountains of northern Alaska with her Hunting Partner. She is originally from a village on the coast, but was wooed from her village by a very handsome and Inupiaq rich Nunamiut mountain man.
He surrounds her with Native riches and beauty so she is more than content. Her days consist of artwork and mythological stories, and she sometimes thinks deep thoughts that have no answers but define the questions better.
She shares both her days and her thoughts on her blog,"Stop and Smell the Lichen." She has four dogs, and an internet connection that has it's own particular sense of humor. She hopes you enjoy your stay!