When my roommate asked me earlier this winter if I wanted to purchase a chess board I reluctantly accepted because I didn’t think we would get our moneys worth out of it. Boy, was I wrong. To stave off the boredom of the dark, cold days this winter we’ve sat down for no less than 62 games of chess over the last two months. The game was 15 bucks, so each time we’ve played it was worth about 24 cents. Not bad. I like to tell myself that playing chess isn’t a waste of time. It’s a chance to bond with your opponent, plus you can’t just shut your brain off like when you’re watching TV, you have to stay on your toes.
Although it could be much worse, it isn’t always the easiest to find fresh fruits and vegetables in the grocery store while living in Nome. Apples are usually a safe bet, although they are a bit disappointing sometimes, especially when you bite into one and it tastes like water and is far chewier than an apple ever should be. Oranges have yet to let me down, but just about everything else has. Broccoli is often starting to go bad and turn ungodly colors while still on the shelf in the store, and more than once I’ve bought a pear or an eggplant just to get it home and realize it has already gone bad.
Even though fruits and veggies are basically a let down since they go bad quickly and often don’t taste as good as in the lower-48, there are some ways around the problem. Western Alaska offers no less than a kazillion free blueberries in the late summer each year. These little guys grow all over the tundra and are a great way to get some vitamins into your system. The best part? You can freeze them and chow down all winter long. I spent a bit of time out on the tundra, enjoying the midnight sun and the beauty of the land for a few weeks last year stocking up on Alaska’s natural treats. Time outdoors is always great, but accomplishing something as significant as stocking up on a fruit source for the winter makes it especially enjoyable.
The most disappointing fruit? Bananas. Usually about $1.69 per lb., they often start turning brown as soon as you get them home and sometimes they accomplish the unusual task of turning right from green to brown. Yellow bananas? Not in Nome.