Oops Pie

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By far, the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me happened on Monday.

Last weekend, Geoff, Albert and I borrowed a canoe and took off for an adventure. We were camped a ways up Deadman’s Creek, and we spent all of Monday hiking in the tundra and berry picking at the base of the mountains. We’d just gotten back to camp, tired and sore from picking our way across the tundra, and were sitting down to eat some dinner before heading back to the village when search and rescue showed up. A complete surprise.

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“Yeah, your Dad called the troopers,” one of the guys said. I looked down at my feet, silently wishing the ground would split open so that I could fall in and be swallowed up by a new slough. Stupid-girl Slough.

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The details don’t matter much, just that it was a communication breakdown and entirely my fault. The searchers were good-humored about it, glad to find us all in one piece. What a first impression I must have made, though, moving to Arctic and causing such a stir within a week. There was a sign posted out in front of the school when we got back “No school Tuesday September 6th until Teachers are Found.” Wright Air flew over the river looking for us, and Venetie was all stirred up on my account. Board members called the superintendent. Kids cried. Geoff’s mom found out and told her neighbor and he managed to get a prayer circle going in West Virginia. What a mess.

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But all things, even embarrassing things, pass, I guess.

I made pie the other day from the blueberries we picked on Monday. They were shriveled up and sweet and purple on the red-leaved bushes, and they made my fingertips and teeth blue. That Tuesday morning the mountains were dusted with snow (we motored through a nasty little rain-squall to get back to the village, and it was cold and awful, so it stands to reason it’d be snow a few-hundred feet higher), so I think that was the last of the season’s blueberries. Embarrassment pie, mortification pie, sweet, delicious, wonderful, blueberry-major-oops pie. dsc05140

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Cowboy Boots in Cambridge

I pulled on my cowboy boots yesterday for the first time in probably two years. The last time I distinctly remember wearing them was the End-of-School-Year Barbecue in Marianna, but I probably wore them a couple of times since then. For the last year or so, they have been collecting dust in storage. Then yesterday, I gave them a brief trial on my bike and decided they were suitable for a ride across the Charles to see Ian in Cambridge.

While I was riding, I thought about something my mom and Granddad would occasionally say, “You can take the man out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the man.” Aside from my family whom I love dearly, I have had a lot of negative associations with Texas. When I visit them we drive through the terrible urban sprawl of DFW; strip malls essentially line the highway the entire drive up North from the city to my Grandparent’s house, near the Oklahoma border.  I think about the hubris and “Everything’s bigger in Texas”, and the consumer culture. And, of course, all my favorite politicians are from Texas. “Don’t Mess with Texas.”

But walking around Cambridge and Harvard, I proudly sported my boots, smiling as they reminded me about my connection with the Lone Star State. There were all types of people from all over the world, taking pictures, touching John Harvard’s gold shoe, but I was the only one in boots.

Still having the Texas in me, I now believe, means taking pride in what makes me unique. It means taking on big projects, big ideas, and actually doing something, not just talking. When I got back to Ian’s apartment, it was a physical struggle to take the boots off. On each baby toe, there was a huge blister.