Alaskan Commodes and Community Advocates

November 19, 2020

My wife Danielle and I used to live in a small Alaska seaside village. Seldovia, Alaska, is a beautiful and friendly town of 300 hardy souls. You get there only by boat or bush plane.

The cabin we rented was on pilings. The tide would come in and go out under the place. Sea otters liked to swim by our front windows, sometimes just a couple of feet below sill level.

We went through ten cords of wood one winter, trying to keep that one bedroom shanty warm. We were warned by the landlords on the late summer day we moved in. They said that it might get cold, as they had never rented it out during the winter. I replied, “No worries, we are from Northern California.”

My penance for this idiotic comment was not having a toilet for many, many months because the exposed drain pipe under the cabin froze solid just after Thanksgiving. It thawed out around Easter.

Our time in Seldovia was marked by me teaching and Danielle stoking the woodstove while writing her thesis. Magic was made at the school where I worked courtesy of a dedicated and caring staff who poured their hearts and souls into the wellbeing and growth Seldovia's students.

We realized we became community advocates simply because we were kid advocates. In return, Seldovia blessed us with a many gifts, including a small celebration with community members and positive influencers on the deck when our toilet thawed out.

That gathering and many others on the town's beaches and in the rough-edged bars left us with forever memories and lifelong friendships. This includes the children we taught who now have children of their own. These Seldovians have far more sense than us California transplants who one Alaska winter had no where to go.



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