Self Sufficiency


Self sufficiency. Those two words summarize a major skill that I have gained by living in bush Alaska.

“What, you mean there’s only WonderBread at the store and it’s $5? I guess I’ll learn to bake bread.”

“What, you mean there’s a hare on my table and I need to get it put away? I guess I’ll learn to butcher a hare.”

“What, you mean there’s no one to cut hair? I guess I’ll learn to cut hair.”

While I readily admit that the amount of self-sufficiency needed to live in bush Alaska now is miniscule compared to what it was twenty, fifty, one hundred years ago more self sufficiency is required here than in most places in the lower 48.

At first, I tried to avoid and deny the need to be self-sufficient, at least when it came to cutting hair. I had absolutely no desire to cut Kyle’s hair. In fact, dread might be the best word to describe how I felt about the prospect of having to cut his hair. So, when Kyle first moved to Koyuk we had another teacher cut his hair. When she stopped cutting hair I switched tactics, “Oh, it’s only a little while more until you go into town, you can just wait until then.” This tactic didn’t work out so well as it left Kyle’s thick, curly hair unkempt for prolonged periods of time in between trips to town.  Finally, last year I realized that I needed to bite the bullet and cut his hair myself.

The results, surprisingly, were fairly successful. I was able to use the shaver to decrease the length of his hair. I was even able to get it to be fairly even most of the time. [Not the time that Kyle decided it would be best if he got his hair wet before cutting it- that was a disaster!] Still, the job wasn’t fun. In fact, it was slow and tedious. Fortunately, this all changed recently!

On his most recent trip back from Anchorage Kyle brought back a hair cutting kit.

Puzzled, I asked “I thought we had a way to cut your hair?”

“Oh, well actually we’ve been using a beard trimmer. It was on sale when I bought it and I figured it would work out well for hair too,” he replied.

“Hmm, well we’ll see how this new stuff works.” I said.

Well, I’m happy to report that it is far easier to cut hair with hair cutting equipment than with beard cutting equipment! Kyle’s most recent haircut took me all of five minutes, compared to the thirty it used to take trying to make things even. The haircutting kit even came with a trimmer to be used around the ears, so now the hair around his ear has a nice rounded shape rather than a choppy, straight one.

Now, haircutting is still not my favorite thing in the world to do. But I would dare to say that I am competent at it. Hooray for self-sufficiency!


Erika Written by:

One Comment

  1. Susan Schneider
    November 25, 2011

    This brings back many memories from Kyle’s childhood and the home haircuts we did. Great job, Erika!!

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