Category Archives: Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: NORTH TO THE NIGHT by Alvah Simon

Armchair adventuring isn’t usually my cuppa tea. I picked this book up in part because of its subtitle, “A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic.”

The book is written by a man who convinces his long-suffering wife Diana that they should live on a boat, and then that the boat should be sailed to the northernmost point possible on the planet so they can live there for a year.

Polar bears are a big feature in the book, mostly how to detect and escape from them. The Simons pick up a kitten as they sail north, naming her Halifax. She becomes a bear detector, companion in the darkness, comic relief, and star attraction for the Inuit who visit the crazy people with the boat wedged in the ice.

That’s the thing about going to the Arctic: getting out again is hard. There are several passages about how the boat suddenly bucks and plunges and ice pieces like killer knives suddenly appear on deck, etc. Also, polar bears.

Diana has to leave in the middle of the winter because her father is dying; kind people come get her because, see above, getting out is hard. And she wasn’t an emergency in the technical sense.

During the year, Simon comes to recognize how much being alone makes you aware of your inner resources, not just surviving, but maintaining sanity. Who are you when no one is looking, literally? The book dealt with that in some aspects, although in true author-to-the-most-people fashion, he leaves how that resolves into affiliational loyalty ambiguous at the end.

There’s a gyrfalcon story that could be considered heartbreaking advocacy, but my favorite was wee Halifax running off an Arctic Fox, and charming an Inuit elder.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about this book is, it made me interested in their journey, even though I never want to go on one similar myself. It is easy for an author to entice people with similar interests to keep reading. I kept reading even though I was halfway to horrified at how strange and different and hard to understand some of their experiences–and even motivations–were. He’s good at making you see what he sees.

Pour yourself a warm beverage, sit back, and watch Halifax romp and the birds fly. And look out for polar bears.


Filed under animal rescue, book reviews, Life reflections, reading, Wendy Welch

Because I Can: Wendy gets unapologetically Grumpy

Over the past couple months I have posted some joyful pictures of my canning successes. (In true social media fashion, no one will ever see the failures.)

In response to these, I got an unexpected and significant amount of cautious questions and some condescending dismissals, like “well I wouldn’t bother with that because it’s cheap at the store, but if you want to be a prepper, be my guest.” And “why are you doing so much canning?”

Social media is one of those weird places where, if you put it out there, you can’t control reactions, nor should you want to. It’s also one of those places where what you think of as happy gets commented on by people who enjoy spreading misery, or who believe their candles will burn brighter if they throw cold water on your flame.

I’m having fun. I can because I can. I like it. The food is good and I know what’s in it. The jars look pretty on a shelf and have become that kind of functional beauty decoration folklorists loved to talk about in academic terms, back in Grad School when we couldn’t afford any art anyway.

So maybe I’m a little annoyed when others feel a need to shred the joy, but c’est la vie. Prepper is hardly the worst thing I’ve been called in life, and the political goo that sticks to the term washes off easily in my water bath canner. I just spent a week at the beach with friends who are taking herbal medicine classes to enhance their professions, and they’re getting jeered at for being hippie weirdos. Which amuses them. Herbal medicines are about the most capitalistic thing going in America right now. You have NO IDEA how much a tincture based on herbs picked for free from your grandpa’s acre sells for per ounce. Or how good sea rocket tastes, sauteed in olive oil. Laughing all the way to the bank, they are, with their muscles relaxed from the stuff they know how to make cheap and apply in just the right spot.

If everything, from why french fries are soggy to the reasons people like canned milk, has to be politicized, here’s wishing those who do so what joy they can scrape out of such ungracious social media interaction. It doesn’t look like much joy from here, but live and let live; isn’t that the point.

Can’t we just enjoy life and let others do the same? Sometimes people have hobbies that involve learning new things because they enjoy learning new things. As opposed to, say, sitting around watching TV. Not everything has to have a democratic or republican slant. Sometimes we pick violets because they’re pretty, and sometimes because they make great sauce for ice cream. Vanilla. Which one hears republicans prefer. Whatever. I guess democrats like Cherry Garcia?

Cut it out, y’all. Get real lives. Enjoy something because you enjoy it. Remember joy, contentment, peace? We can still do that. Live and let live.

(Note to friends who may be feeling attacked right now: It’s okay; I know you asked because you care. Other people didn’t and I’m talking to them. Let it go.)


Filed under crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch