BOOK REVIEW

REVIEW - BLUE HILLS

Ferguson, Judy, Blue HIlls: Alaskaís Secret Door. Glas Publishing, Big Delta, Alaska. Softbound. 256 pages. Map and profusely illustrated with black-and-white photographs. $24.95.

Reading books by modern settlers in Alaska has made me cross lately. Too many people come up here to re-enact taming the Old West, forgetting those brave souls killed off the buffalo, treated the Indians abominably, polluted the rivers and let the soil blow away by bad farming practices. Oh, and made extinct a number of plants and animals.

Itís refreshing to read an account by a woman who has always treated Alaska on its terms. Judy came up in 1968 for adventure and to meet similar explorers. She has fulfilled her wishes. Her husband and she, and later their children as well, have trapped, boated; in short, done the usual Alaskan thing of turning their hands at anything that produces the small amount of money needed to supplement a subsistence life style.

Their stomping grounds have always been the Interior, especially the Upper Tanana Valley. The Fergusons did not see themselves as lonely pioneers. Sensibly they tried to fit in, making friends with the sparse population of the valley and fostering the community spirit they found. From time to time they moved to the road system so the children could get a break from home schooling, but each time the cabin called, and they found themselves heading back to the peace and comfort of the wilderness. Blue Hills refers to her dream of unspoiled paradise, a place of dreams that can come true.

Thumb-nail sketches and photographs of many of the people they knew over the years fill most of the book, along with anecdotes such as why they no longer keep goats, the Great Delta Horse Race that took two hours to run a three-quarters-of-a-mile course, and various lessons they learned from oldtimers. A fun read and a glimpse of the real Bush Alaska.

D. L.

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