Paws Along the Trail with Waste

One of the difficult parts of the English language is dealing with multiple meaning words.  If you are reading along in a passage and realize it doesn’t make sense, perhaps the word was chosen for an additional meaning.  For instance, dog even has multiple meanings.  Here are three definitions from BING.com:

Dog – a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice. It is widely kept as a pet or for work or field sports.

Dog –a person regarded as unpleasant, contemptible, or wicked

Dog –a mechanical device for gripping

There are even more!  As you read my article, remember that there are multiple meanings to words.  Use the context clues to determine which meaning I have intended.

I was standing with a man from Unalakleet  near the parked dog teams during the Iditarod.  One of the dogs proceeded to go to the bathroom;  it was very odiferous!  The man turned toward me and proceeded to tell me of a local Inupiaq or Eskimo tradition.  “In Eskimo culture, we name ravens after what they eat.  There are ravens that have a certain name because they eat…that.”  He told me the name, but I don’t believe I can spell it in the native language.  I feel sorry for those ravens, but guess they’ve earned it from what they choose to snack upon.  

A funny story which reminded me of school field trips or car rides happened when musher Mike Williams, Jr. was leaving Unalakleet. The team had been resting a long time. As Mike pulled the team out onto the ice to leave, they hadn’t gone 50 feet when a dog stopped to go to the bathroom.  When he was finished, they took off again, and another one slowed down to go.  Mike jokingly said, “Why can’t you all go at the same time and be done with it so we can leave?”  Most of the time, the dogs just let go of their waste while they’re trotting along the trail.  They are quite good at it.  

Team leaving Unalakleet

The trail volunteers keep the dog area clean with rakes and shovels, picking up waste and disposing of it to keep the yard clean The straw upon which the dogs rest in checkpoints is raked up onto tarps or in large bags.  In communities near a frozen body of water, they will take the dirty straw onto the ice and burn it after the race.

Not much goes to waste on the Iditarod.  Any food or dogfood left by the mushers or volunteers is donated to the village for use. In Anvik, I was picking up stray pieces of plastic twine left from bales of straw when Lev Shvarts said, “Is that twine?  May I have that?”  He used it to wrap around a partial bale of straw he wanted to load onto his sled.  Waste not, want not.

A volunteer often cooks for the others at a checkpoint.  When one of our amazing cooks found she had been sent many cans of pork & beans, she googled what to do with beans and found a bean cake recipe!  When they offered it, a New Zealand volunteer asked me, “Is bean cake an American thing?”  I assured her it wasn’t; however, the dense bean cake tasted really good, similar to a spice cake.  It was a creative way to use up extra beans and not waste them!  Because we laughed so much about bean cake, our New Zealander used up some of our extra Tang orange drink mix in the pancakes the next morning!  Using what we had…that was the way of the mushers and the volunteers.  

The same man in Unalakleet told me another way animals don’t waste food.  He told that wolf packs quietly wait in the woods in order to eat up any leftover meat when a dog team has stopped to snack.

As you can see from reading the article, I have referred to a multiple meaning word:  waste.  Have you determined the meanings used in this article from context clues?

Multiple Meanings of Words Worksheet