If you don’t want to get wet, you should stay out of the water. That sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s obvious when it comes to the material world—the environment we are in influences our state of being—if it’s raining, and we’re out in it, we’re going to get wet. If it’s sunny and hot, our temperature is going to go up. If it’s dark, we can’t see. Self-evident, right? But what about our emotional and spiritual environment? Are we as aware of its influence over our state of being?

It’s the beginning of firewood season for us. I know there are some people who are way ahead of us—they’ve already put up their winter’s supply. But the end of August is actually pretty good considering that our regular pattern consists of running around just before the snow flies trying to find some firewood dry enough to burn. The timing just worked out better this year. But the wood still has to be split before we can move to the next step.

Cody Larson is a subsistence fisheries scientist with the Bristol Bay Native Association. Larson studies the way that native residents of the Bristol Bay area harvest and utilize the natural resources of their land, and he is one co-author of a technical paper published by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on networks of distribution among native communities and beyond. Essentially, he examines the traditional ways native Alaskans share.

Our neighbors to the west of us host Cowboy Fast Draw events a few times a year. Cowboy Fast Draw is related to other cowboy action shooting sports—participants dress in old-time western outfits, choose aliases like “Buzzard Cooper” and “Texas Rose,” and use pistols like those that would have been used back in the old west—never mind that most of that “Old West” mystique was created more by Hollywood than by history. The competitors use wax bullets and light loads so they can shoot in confined places without the danger of hurting anyone. This last weekend, our neighbors hosted the Great Northwestern Territorial Championship—for four days, the road was lined with crew-cab pickup trucks and RVs and folks in cowboy garb walked back and forth, visiting and watching the competition.

Japan is a nation that is built of wood. The Horyuji Temple complex is considered the oldest existing wooden building, with some of the structures dating back to the late seventh century. Japanese carpenters learned techniques that allowed them to construct buildings with a certain flexibility—a necessity in an earthquake-prone region in which more brittle masonry structures would be regularly damaged. Prior to the mid-twentieth century, wood was also the primary source of fuel for cooking and heat. Currently, Japan uses over 42 billion board-feet of lumber each year.