In our July-August 2013 issue of Dollhouse Miniatures, we asked readers to come up with a mystery to share with other fans. The winning scene, a Yukon mystery, was published in our Sept-Oct issue (DHM35; buy a downloadable copy here).
The scene, by Cindi Payne, was included in our November-December issue (DHM36; buy a downloadable copy here). A Yukon mystery, it told the story of Charlie, a man who notices that his nearest neighbors are missing--and seemed to have left their place in a hurry! Pete and Bob, two brothers, live five miles away from Charlie and usually answer his call of three shots with three shots of their own. Today, Charlie didn't hear any shots, and hiked over to see what was going on--and then he, too, fled quickly.
Readers surmised that the black-and-white object to the right of the cabin was the source of the problem, and indeed, it was a large skunk that had caused the brothers to scurry out of their cabin.
But we received many entries, and one of our favorites was this one by Mickey Bowie of Kansas. She couldn't determine that the object was a skunk, so she came up with her own version of events.
We love this story because Mickey obviously took great care in researching Yukon history and practices, making this piece informative as well as entertaining! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The letter received from Mickey:
What a challenge to let my imagination run wild to create a realistic ending for the Yukon Mystery Scene contest featured in Dollhouse Miniatures magazine.
Playing detective was fun; I learned several interesting facts about the Yukon by visiting Google sites! The attached pages are my version of what happened! The story "A Yukon Mystery" left several threads to tie into a neat bow while wrapping up the tale.
Two different magnifying glasses were used to identify the black and white object near the neatly stacked firewood. One magnifying glass is lighted with a built-in super-magnifier and I still could not really see what it was.
Each month I truly enjoy Dollhouse Miniatures magazine with its variety of well-written articles. Talented artists sharing their projects often tingle a special interest inside me. I am anxious to try "Etched Glass" in the near future. My miniature Christmas tree is going to have gobs of freshly wrapped presents under the tree using "Wrapped in Ribbons and Bows" as a guide. There just isn't enough leisure hours in my day to satisfy the curiosity I have for trying something new! Not every project is successful; I quickly learned working with polymer clay is not for me—my fingers have too much arthritis.
Keep the presses rolling to produce a magazine that is exciting each month!
And here's Mickey's story:
The Rest of the Story
By Mickey Bowie
Pete rises early each day, prepares breakfast for himself and his brother Bob; he eats and begins attacking his tasks for the day. First he will split firewood for the cook/heating stove inside their tent cabin. It's anyone's guess why the foundation side walls are only three feet tall. A thick heavy-duty canvas tarp is the cabin's roof, held in place by sapling trees 2 ½ to 3" in diameter. The wood soaked in the Yukon River a couple weeks so it would be flexible and could be bent into arches. When dried, each arch was secured into the 3' high side wall. The brothers have made it through two Alaskan winters without any major roof repairs; a feat in itself battling strong winter winds and snow accumulation.
Pete (the oldest brother) has a long beard hanging down most of his chest. Today he failed to dab his whiskers and shake out breakfast crumbs trapped in his facial hair. A dumb oversight on his part! Alaskans living in the iwld country learn bears can smell food a long way off and will follow the aroma. It is suggested "do not wear clothing outside you wore while cooking; the smell has permeated your clothing." You will become a walking advertisement for bears to stop by unannounced!
Inside the cabin, sleepyhead Bob is beginning to stir around getting his day in motion. usually, heeats breakfast, cleans up dishes and begins "thinking what to prepare for dinner" using the limited supplies on hand. The brothers get along on two meals a day. When Bob completes his agenda, he will wander outside to see what Pete is doing.
Bushes and scrub growth begin to rustle. Pete is alert to sounds made by all kinds of animals blazing trails toward the river. The salmon are on their journey up the Yukon River to spawn and die. When Pete turns around, there stood mama black bear with two cubs tagging along; the bears are sizing him up. Bears can run faster than humans; have very good close vision and twice the hearing ability of man. Bears can detect smells far away and if it smells like food, watch out and stay out of their path! Perhaps mama bear smelled the breakfast beard crumbs first? As the bears came near the cabin, she got a strong whiff of food from inside the cabin. Pete was able to escape when her attention was centered on food and not him. Bears are omnivorous and will eat most anything available from berries to meat including humans! No time to grab his shotgun, Pete yelled to Bob—BEARS, BEARS, BEARS while running away from their tent cabin into a grove of trees.
Bob is munching breakfast as he hears Pete yelling. When Bob heard "bears" he got up so quickly the table tipped over but who cares—the most important action is GETTING AWAY!!!!! Bob ran out the door; right smack in front of him were three bears not 10 feet away!!!!! Bob sprinted around the cabin corner toward tall weeds and a fallen tree to hide behind. He didn't know he was safe; mama bear was more interested in food than chasing a man!
The three bears strolled inside the cabin, making themselves at home. Eating food on the floor, raking groceries off pantry shelves, ripping open sacks and tasting everything; if it tasted good they ate it! The bears investigated every nook and cranny; even beds were disheveled and the table and chairs were broken. The cabin was a complete disaster. Thank goodness, no claws tore the canvas roof!
Remember Bob and Pete's neighbor Charlie living five miles away? He was concerned when his three shots in the air were not returned by shots from the brothers. Charlie hiked five miles over hills and through dales because he felt something was wrong. When he didn't see Bob or Pete outside their cabin, he peeked through the open door and spied the bears making themselves at home—and Charlie took off like a bullet himself! After the bears departed, continuing their journey toward the Yukon River, Charlie helped the brothers clean up a huge mess inside the cabin.
The trip into town discussed earlier in the week was essential now; the brothers had no food and would buy a new table and chairs. The three men stayed several days in town. They deserved a special vacation; after all, they escaped from three bears and never fired a shot!
When the men left the bright lights of city living and returned to their country homes, Charlie checked his cabin, started a fire so it would be warm when he returned later in the day. He traveled with the brothers to their tent cabin; helped them put supplies away and carry the new table and chairs inside. It was early afternoon, a fire was started to warm the tent cabin and by a unanimous vote they strolled down to the river to watch the animal circus that takes place each year during the salmon run. It could be advertised as an "all you can eat salmon buffet." The natural zoo without fencing would include black and grizzly bears, elk, moose, cougar or mountain lions, gray and timber wolves, otters, seals, eagles, seagulls, and a wide variety of small birds; each gathered along the banks of the Yukon River to feast on salmon.
Bears steal the show by snagging fish in midair as the salmon attempt to jump waterfalls to go upstream. When successful, the fish is taken to a rock or solid ground, while holding the salmon down with one paw and ripping the fish open with the other; salmon eggs are scooped out, a bear's favorite treat, while the fish is still alive!
Of course there are disagreements between animals that cause fracas. Human observers learn and often laugh when they see how wild animals settle their differences. Trying to steal a fish away from the catcher is serious business and can lead to biting and blood flowing. Bears swimming in the river or frolicking in shallow water is also entertaining.
Baby bears often climb trees to stay out of the hustle and bustle along the riverbank. When a mama bear catches a salmon, cubs quickly come down to get their share of food, then scamper back up the tree for safety.
The salmon run during July and August help bears gain two pounds of weight per day; Mother Nature is preparing them for their upcoming hibernation and long winter nap.
The Yukon mystery is solved unless the black and white object pictured next to the neatly stacked wood is a skunk, and that would be another story…