They first came into my life when I was three years old. I remember when Fritz would play Pretty Pretty Princess, wearing the necklaces, earrings, and rings, to entertain me. I remember sitting on Mr. Baer’s lap learning how to tie flies, or make pixies when I was four, and I will never forget the late nights we all stayed up playing games and laughing our heads off. As I grew older, my mom and I started spending summers down in Kasilof set-net fishing with “my uncles,” and their wives. Over the years, they have become my extended family. Instead of Pretty Pretty Princess, we bond by picking, filleting, and packaging fish. Late night camp fires, telling stories, and laughing have become a summer tradition.
As I think about my “special uncles,” I realize that most people that live in rural Alaska need close “family” friends to survive this wild country. Here in Kenny Lake, my mom and I consider many of our closest friends to be our family. We help each other build our homes, hunt for food, celebrate birthdays and other holidays, and even cry and pray with them about life’s struggles. I guess that is what makes Kenny Lake, Alaska a unique place. It’s not just our beautiful mountains, rivers and wildlife that make this place special, but the relationship we have with each other as well. Riot Grrlie really sums it up when he says, “There are the families that we are born into, and there are the families that we choose as our circle of friends. While their faces may change over the course of our lives, the joy they bring us remains constant.”