The Atlin Security Blanket
Atlin News Miner
Diane Smith – Aug 24, 1972
Everyone has heard of the physiological security blanket. It is the end result of behavior motivation which leads to saving something, be it money or stale sourdoughs, thus creating a shield against unexpected needs or threatening events.
For an infant, a soggy thumb is all that is needed to ward off demons conjured up in his baby brain. But with adults, this activity can take off in unexpected directions and Atlin adults in particular wrap themselves in intricately woven blankets.
The semi-isolation, long dark days and severe cold of winter has given a whole new twist to the old string and tin foil saving pattern.
For the cheechakoes still casting about for your own best security blanket, here are some ideas gathered from Atlin old timers. Maybe they will help you find an answer to the apprehensions and pesky little inconveniences of your first northern winter.
Books are one of the world’s best security blankets because reading is an excellent escape mechanism, and this is what we most often need during an Atlin winter. Reading a good book can project you happily into some other world while you sit in your living room where the temperature is 38 degrees, knowing full well Harvey Rossiter has 28 other deliveries to make before he can fill your oil barrel.
A good book will relieve the discomfort of waiting for your drain to thaw so you can flush the toilet or waiting for the septic tank to be emptied. Sometimes this takes until June. You might need three or four books when you have three teaspoons of water in the whole house, there are eighteen dinner guests arriving in just 35 minutes, the budgie is dying of thirst and Bowden and his water truck have vanished from the face of the earth.
Best of all, however, a book will dispel the dismal feeling discovering there is no toilet paper or peanut butter at either The Trading Post or Edie’s Store until next Wednesday.
Security precautions must be taken against the possibility of winter idleness which leads directly to advanced cabin fever. Here an enormous store of “work-needing-to-be-done” is all you have. For instance, about thirteen broken chainsaws and three non-running skidoos with lots of missing parts are excellent.
A large basket containing 85 balls of yarn and a half-finished hand knit jumpsuit for a 290-pound man is great, as is a 45-gallon drum filled with miscellaneous nuts, bolts, screws, nails and copper fittings which need to be sorted.
Our pioneer backgrounds decree we must always be working. Unless one is totally devoid of conscience, he must be doing something that falls somewhere under the heading of work at any given time in the day.
The woman who bakes has at her fingertips the best security blanket in the entire non-idleness department. As long as she has bread doing something in the kitchen, she has an airtight alibi for sitting around the Trappers Coffee House drinking tea or spending three hours at the magazine rack at the General Store.
When the bread is doing something at home, she can while away guilt free hours talking about all the work she has been doing to some other gal who has bread going forever.
Having a lot of dogs is a legendary sort of security which harkens from the old story of cuddling up with mutts on cold winter nights: hence the term “one dog night” or the cooler “two-dog night.” Even realizing the dog blanket business is lore, just the knowledge there are eight woolly, smelly dogs out there somewhere ready and waiting in case the electric blanket fails beats some of the most carefully contrived schemes.
Being alone can be a dangerous winter situation but it is easily remedied. You should keep on hand a very large selection of the following items: copper fittings, nuts, bolts and screws, oil, water, recipes for making bread, peanut butter and toilet paper.
These are the things people most often have to borrow in Atlin and if everyone knows that you always have all of them, they will be beating a path to your door and you will never know that awful feeling that no one loves you. And it will be spring before you know it.
For many more Atlin stories, read Atlin Where Everyone Knows Your Dog’s Name.