I had another wonderful day today. The sun was shining. The rocks, the muddy terrain and the juniper bushes which grow just along the ground are appearing out from under the snow. Every time you go along a path, it looks different because the snow is evaporating into the air. Jonathan spent a couple of days chopping away at some of the paths so that we don’t slip and fall. There has been very little runoff yet as it has been cold but sunny.
Rajeev and Leanne gave us another lecture this morning – this time about Community Health Promotion. Health promotional strategies and programs should be adapted to local needs and possibilities of the individual communities, regions and countries. Some programs might take too much time and effort to be of any use. They should take into account differing social, cultural and economic systems to be successful in the communities involved. Leanne gave us a couple of interesting examples about health promotions which had gone very wrong! We had heard about one of them as it got into the media, but not the other.
We then had a discussion about the photovoice project. We are not really going to “finish” the project and present it to the world at large as it is just an example of how this research method works. We are all taking photos which will represent Our Dechinta Experience. We are to choose 10 each, which we will discuss and then I would assume chose one from each of us to represent our collective Dechinta experience. I have chosen my 10 and did my little SHOWeD blurbs to go with each. Nice to have one assignment finished.
This afternoon I wanted to make sure that I went along with Modeste to pull the fish net. Several of us wanted to go so Lesley brought her skidoo also. She and Kali were sailing along over the snow behind us – It is so warm that Lesley had on only her poncho and no snow pants! We went with Modeste, Daniel, Fred and Lena.
We began to pull up the net … one whitefish, two whitefish, a HUGE 35 lb trout, another whitefish, a small 5 lb trout and, last but not least, ANOTHER HUGE 35 lb trout. Wow! What a catch. We reset the net and hurried back to camp. I think we had been gone only about a half hour. Before we left the hole, Modeste and I filled our water bottles with the ice cold water… an extra treat from this expedition.
Our resident elder, Terese, came out to the smoking tepee to show those of us who had not seen what she did yesterday how to prepare the fish for smoking. It is an amazing, well thought out process which has, of course, been working for thousands of years. It was interesting to see the “division of labour” during this process. Fred filleted the large fish because they were heavy, Lena cubed the trout flesh for chowder from those fillets and Terese cut up the whitefish for smoking. Melaw did one – and did a great job too.
Terese and Lena were very careful to clean off the blood from the flattened cardboard box on which they were working. All the scales and guts were collected carefully and put tidily into a green garbage bag. She cut the fish in one piece so that, when it is hanging up to smoke, neither side is too heavy. You must also, like the dry meat, ensure that the skin side is placed down on the poles first so that the flesh has a time to “harden” a bit before the fish are flipped during the smoking process. She also very carefully removed the tail of each fish. The tail is like our legs, she said. The fish need the tail to swim so we must not eat the tail or cook it as the next fish to grow will need its tail to be able to swim.
Terese also told us that the whitefish scales can be washed, bleached and dyed to be used in making pictures of flowers. I have never seen that. Kali and I thought that you might be able to make some interesting earrings. They would certainly be light.
Terese and Fred each cut the gills out of the large trout heads and then cut them down the middle so that they would lie flat on the grill over the fire. While they were cooking, Fred cooked the belly of one. Terese also wanted the tail portion (from the trout which had already been filleted) cooked. That part is nice and tender. Melaw, Kali and I devoured half of one of the fish heads. Modeste had the other half. The cheeks were the size of large eggs. I was surprised at how tough they were compared to the rest of the flesh. They are the small delicacies on the whitefish.
So, here I am, writing in my room on my new “desk” which Josie made me yesterday. I am satiated with trout and a wonderful afternoon sitting around the tepee in the sun, watching, learning and eating. What a way to spend my time here! I think I am having so much fun learning these new things on the land and sitting in the sun, talking with every one, that my studies are falling behind. I am glad that I am keeping up with these journal entries. Otherwise, the days would be running together, one by one, and I would not recall what had made me so excited each day. I would just have the “feelings” and they would not be enough when I have to do my assignments! J
I have no idea what we are going to do this evening. I feel like rolling into bed and napping while I digest all that fish!