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Grouse meets window of Alaska cabin on 40-below day, becomes dinner

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Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2011 3:51 pm | Updated: 1:52 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

DELTA JUNCTION - About a week ago on one of those minus 40 degree days, I heard a crash in my living room.

When I went to check it out, I found my first stained glass project, a pretty blue and orange butterfly, on the floor. It had fallen off its suction cup from the window, cracked but intact. What the heck? One look outside told me what happened — a grouse had hit the window. Lucky for us it didn’t break the window on that very cold day, but it did die of blunt trauma.

And just like that we had a free meal. I didn’t want to waste the bird so we brought it inside and I set my kids to the task of plucking it.

We could have just skinned it and been done with it, but at minus 40 you’ve got to keep kids busy. They really enjoyed this surprise task and when I cut off the head they were fascinated.

I was too. Its throat was packed full of spruce needles. I mean packed. That’s when my husband made an observation: It was 40 below and all this bird had to eat was pine needles. It was a good day to die.

Gutting the bird was also a good lesson in anatomy as I pointed out this and that.

This reminded me of my seventh-grade science project and how proud I was of it. I had taken a blue gill and perfectly cut it in half in order to show all the organs and made a poster to label all the parts. I put the fish on one of those styrofoam trays you get with meat at the store and passed it around for all my classmates to see. Many were impressed. At least that’s how I remember it.

Anyway, in the vein of keeping kids busy (and heck, it’s fun for adults too), here’s something you can make with an old aluminum arrow — a mini blow gun!

Cut the arrow down to sections about 12-inches long (you can probably get two pieces out of one arrow). Use a hack saw or a tubing cutter.

Then gather some plain sewing pins and yarn. Cut little pieces of yarn and tie a piece around each head of the pins. Secure it in place with superglue or household glue if you’ve got it. Let the pins dry.

Fray the fibers of the yarn so it’s no longer twisted. Next, draw a target on a piece of cardboard and hang it up on the wall somewhere.

Insert one pin at a time into the end of the blow gun and aim at the target. Take a deep breath and blow the pin out! It’s like darts with a blow gun — lots of fun. Just keep track of those pins that don’t stick!

Hang in, everyone. March is the best month of winter, and then it’s over.

Enjoy all the new snow and bright sunshine! Before we know it the mosquitoes will be back.

Until then make some blow guns and have some fun!

Do you have a good idea to keep busy on cold days? Have a winter project you’ve been working on and would like to show off?

Write to me if you’d like to share, and include a picture!

Brookelyn Bellinger is an independent filmmaker and author of the book “The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin’.” Send your questions to


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