It has been a worrying weekend for many of us in the Highlands and other tourist destinations. Beauty spots in England, Wales and Scotland were swamped by visitors at a time when everyone has been asked to refrain from non-urgent travel.
This morning the caravan parks have closed and most people are returning home. They have better medical support there than they would have in remote parts of the country.
We can understand that people want to visit their favourite places. If we all work together to flatten the curve, this will soon be possible again.
We’re climbing the trail where Winter still lives on the hillside. Snow laces between heather and grass, delightful in simple patterns. Every step brings a deeper awareness. An awareness of what matters most. Companionship, looking after one another, only ever taking what little is needed and giving plenty back. Walking here in the sun, it is love that anchors the way.
into the pure land an immeasurable light turning west
We received a wonderful surprise in the post from our lovely blogging friend Paz from Armchair Zen. He has written two books about Sasha of the Chukchi Sea that were inspired by his rescue dog Sasha, who blogs here.
The first book in the series is called Homestead.
The story begins just before Sasha is born at a homestead in the Arctic Circle to a wonderful mum who lives with many other dogs and a loving and caring human family. The family have also adopted a dog called Kotka, who had been badly treated by his previous owner. Kotka is very defensive at first and we can understand why he would be wary after all he’d been through.
As Sasha grows up she learns how to be part of a sledge team and they set off on a journey across frozen rivers and deep snow to a trading post at Dezhnevo. They meet other mushers with their own dog packs who come to trade, including a man called Tun. Some of the people arriving from further across the tundra have their sledges pulled by reindeer.
The story is told with a lot of warmth and a great understanding of dogs and their different personalities. The delightful banter and singing of the sledge dogs whilst they’re mushing made us laugh out loud!
We loved the scenery, the adventures when out on the trails and learned a lot about life for the dogs in these remote and cold conditions. We were also given a glimpse of Chukchi culture and their sense of community, even when the people and animals of this community live very far apart. Most of the journeys are more than a day away and include setting up an overnight camp.
The second book in the series is called Lodge.
Sasha and her brother Anchu leave their home to begin a new life with Tun in the second book, an overwhelming experience for both of them to begin with. The way the loving voice of their mother continues to travel with them is beautifully told. They are now part of a new pack and quickly bond with their new team mates and their larger than life musher Tun. Tun appears to have no family of his own and he treats every person and dog he meets like family.
They quickly feel at home at Tun’s lodge and he lets the dogs roam freely when they’re not working. They travel to a larger settlement to take part in a dog race and soon after that their world is turned upside down by soldiers clearing and burning down settlements, leaving the rest of them to flee.
Sasha and the team need to be at their strongest and work together to deal with what happens next. They are reunited with their friend Kotka and the deep and independently minded Larik makes all the dogs consider whether they wouldn’t be better off living in the wild, without the humans and sledges that can keep them trapped in dangerous situations. Don’t think of it as the wilderness, he says, think of it as Home.
We really enjoyed these two books and think they will appeal to dog lovers and people of all ages with an interest in Chukchi culture, sledge dogs and the great outdoors. Scott (Paz) is a great story teller and brings a beautiful sense of balance by looking at potentially difficult situations from different perspectives, even zooming in and out of the cosmos to marvel at the tiny specs in the snow the characters in these stories are.
Homestead and Lodge by Scott R O’Connor are both available from Amazon. He is currently working on his third book in the series called Caravan. We are looking forward to reading what happens next!
A very big thank you to Scott for sending us these lovely books, we will treasure them. Our companion is looking forward to reading Armchair Zen – Gleanings, very soon too.
Wishing you all a very happy Friday and a wonderful weekend,
with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx
Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/500 s – ISO 160, f/2.8 – 1/640 s – ISO 160, f/2.8 – 1/60 s – ISO 200 and f/2.8 – 1/15 s – ISO 200.