Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sometimes teaching is a shot in the dark

Brett Stirling tells a story of hunting for rabid fox as a principal in rural Alaska. Can't say I have ever hunted fox but the story brings to mind the one time my wife shot a moose.

Fall moose season in the Bush can be a major event. Most men in our village take a boat ride up the main Shaktoolik River, hoping to cross paths with Bullwinkle. Not me - I stay indoors, teaching school.

Well one early morning in September, just after first bell, my students spotted a moose only 500 yards away from our classroom window. He was a big bull, ambling slowly across the shallow Tagoominik River.

No sooner had the bull been spotted, than my wife excitedly entered the classroom. She was carrying our infant daughter and a diaper bag. "Hold Ruth," she said, "there is a moose across the river!"

Skipping over the gory parts... My wife and her friend Isabelle later radioed into town that they needed a a little help butchering the kill. Well, as luck would have it, an officer with the U.S. Fish and Game was listening to the radio from the village police office.

Now hunting without a license is not uncommon in Shaktoolik, but when a Fins-n-Fur Cop is nearby, it is best to comply with the State regulations. And sure as my wife can shoot, she didn't have a hunting license.

Fortunately my niece was listening in the police office, too. She quickly and surreptitiously came into the school and apprised me of the situation. Handing Baby Ruth to my niece, and telling her to watch my 3rd period class as well, I headed out the door.

I borrowed the school's four-wheeler and drove over to purchase a couple of permits for the lucky lady hunters. Buzzing through town on the Honda, I made back in time for 4th period.

Baby Ruth taught school the rest of the day, taking turns going from one junior high student to the next. Just cooing away in swaddling clothes as her babysitter-of-the-moment solved algebraic equations and read about the civil war.

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