I love autumn. Just love it. The crisp morning air, the falling leaves (I’m waxing poetic here, so go with me, okay? I’m aware that the leaves have been falling for months because of the drought,) harvest moons and hearty stews. I missed autumn when I lived in the Arctic. There were a couple of days when the tundra turned red, but it was quickly covered in snow.
It’s such a joy to work outside on a pretty fall day. Today, we dug sweet taters. Personally, I detest sweet potatoes. Can’t stand them. Can’t even eat the marshmallows off the top of the casserole. Bleck! Pops knew I hated them and when I was a kid, he always made me plant them. How cruel is that? When I lived in Kaktovik, I remember getting a box from Pops in the mail. Pops didn’t mail things. That was always Ma’s department. So, getting something from Pops was quite exciting
Life in a tiny Inupiaq village in the middle of the Arctic Ocean can be somewhat dreary to say the least. I lived for the mail. OMG. It soooo was freaking exciting to get a box. Since it was from Pops, I knew it was going to be good. I clutched the package to my chest and ran to to the truck. I couldn’t wait to open it. It was like Christmas Eve. Do you open the gifts that night or hold out the suspense until Christmas morning?
It didn’t take me long to tear past the brown paper wrapping and rip into the cardboard. Pops sent me something. Oh boy! Oh boy!
Imagine my surprise when I reached into the package and pulled out a giant sweet potato. Yep. That’s right, my father mailed a sweet potato to the Arctic. After phoning him and giving him a piece of my mind–while laughing, of course, I poked some toothpicks into it and grew the prettiest sweet potato vine in Kaktovik, Alaska.
So, as I savored the beautiful fall afternoon digging potatoes with Ma and my other brother Darryl, I smiled and thought of Pops. I remember people telling me that he’d always be with me. It was little comfort to hear those words, but now I know what they meant and relish those tiny moments when Pops reminds me that he’ll always love me.