“The Last Alaskans” presented the episode, “The Great Unknown”, as season three winds down on Discovery. If you thought the camera work has been good thus far, it was nothing compared to what we saw last night. Total darkness ended in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The sunlight returned and we got to see it in all its glory.
It’s difficult to decide what is more magical and wondrous when you compare the first ray of sunlight hitting Edna Korth’s head in her cabin, to those extraordinary scenes at night with the northern lights in vivid colors of green. blue and purple. The entire hour was magical, and that extended to some from the Korth family.
It was Edna’s birthday and husband Heimo made it as special as he could. Without stores to buy presents, it’s all about making Edna’s favorite meal. It takes effort because the meat is frozen solid and sawing it into pieces for grilling becomes part of the gift, since the temperature outside is a balmy 16 degrees below zero.
Heimo always waxes poetic about his wife, but on her birthday he recounted the many reasons he still adores her. Edna was a bit shy about taking any praise, and in fact, admitted that she hates birthdays now, because she realizes how old she is. The woman is 63 and can still take down an animal with a gun, or set traps that provide income.
In fact, Heimo said there are only two things that make Edna giddy with delight. One is finding an animal in a trap she set and the other is when her family is around. We met Krin, the Korth’s daughter, earlier this season and got introduced to her infant son Colby. Edna and Heimo wish they lived closer, but for now, at least, she’s on the east coast of the lower 48.
Oh, what a birthday it would be if she had them with her, but Edna faced disappointment like a trooper. That is, until she and Heimo listened to their favorite radio show while celebrating Edna’s birthday.
There’s one program they are devoted to since it will include messages for folks in the bush, to keep them apprised of important information. Not only did Edna get a shout out for her big day, but it was from Krin. She was already in Fairbanks, on her way to celebrate with her mom, and would arrive the next day.
The tears of joy and love spilled down Edna’s cheeks as Heimo watched his usually stoic wife reduced to a pool of mush. That put some pep in her step as she realized it was the best birthday present she could have received. She went to bed early and was up at 4:30 a.m. to get a pot on the stove for Krin’s favorite meal. Then she began to make a parka for her grandson, which stunned her husband who noted that it wouldn’t be done in time. That didn’t dissuade Edna, who had also done some carpet cleaning while Heimo “slept in” until 6:15!
As the Seldens noted in another segment of the episode, it takes a strong marriage to withstand life in the refuge, trapping for a living and killing your own food. Heimo and Edna Korth have made it 35 years, and are still going strong.
“The Last Alaskans” airs Wednesdays on Discovery Channel, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT Image credit: Discovery Communications, used with permission