A journalist observes life in the far north.
Jake Hubbard, seen here, was mine and Jade’s companion this weekend while Al and Jake’s parents worked on his family’s summer home at Harding Lake. And by summer home I mean a Connex trailer with a shed-sized bathhouse out back. Still, their place is at Harding Lake, which is where a lot of old Fairbanks families with money spend their summers. Houses there cost upwards of $200,000. The Hubbards paid $100,000 for their acre of lake front property. They dream of building a fancy second home and banishing guests to the Connex. Al and I followed this family to Harding Lake to get away for the weekend and so that Al could help put aluminum siding on the bathhouse, a job that took all day yesterday.
Jake has a great sense of humor and proved to be good company. He calls his mom by her first name, Kim. When I asked him what he has been doing this summer, he said, “Watching rated R movies.” When we went on a walk, Jake asked me how many Marys I know. After thinking about it, I was surprised to discover that I know only one, a belly dancer. Jake knows four Marys. He also asked me if I had ever been stung by a bee and went on to tell an epic story of how he was stung by six bees at once.
We stayed in a tent, a first for our baby, who has been having a lot of firsts lately. A week ago Saturday, Jade began crawling in earnest, not just rocking back and forth on her hands and knees. Yesterday, she pulled herself up to a standing position. I was lying on a blanket reading in the sun, and Jade was playing beside me. Jake came over and asked if my baby was standing up yet. I said no. He said, “She is now.” And he was right. Jade had put both of her hands on my butt to balance herself and got up off of her knees. She was leaning on me, yes, but she was standing on her own two feet.
Harding Lake is a beautiful lake. I can see why people pay so much money for property there. When the sun is out, the lake shimmers. There are hills all around. It’s only an hour’s drive from Fairbanks. Our place in the mountains is almost three hours away. But the lake is spoiled by the constant drone of motor boats and waverunners. There is no peace. It’s like being beside a four-lane highway. When a float plane takes off, the noise is so loud you have to shout during conversation. If I had a pile of money to buy a summer home, I’d choose somewhere more quiet.