Jon Van Zyle

Today was the first day of the Iditarod Winter Teachers Conference!  The day was filled with amazing presentations and ideas on the many ways to integrate the Iditarod into the classroom.

After the conference, we took a field trip to the home of Jon and Jona Van Zyle.  Jon Van Zyle is an Iditarod mushing veteran and an official Iditarod artist.  As we walked through the doors, both Jon and Jona welcomed us to their home.  I was drawn immediately to the many prints, paintings, carvings and art pieces throughout their home. Each piece unique and beautiful! I was anxious to start my tour of these masterpieces.

I began my journey admiring the art and was quickly drawn to a black and white picture hung high on the wall. It was of a sled dog majestically sitting atop its home surrounded by snow.  Looking at the eyes of the dog and the way it held itself, I could feel a sense of confidence and peace. 

Another piece that caught my attention was of a single dog’s head centered in a frame.  Along the bottom was a musher and his team of dogs, and behind were several faded scenes of the dog with a child and another adult.  To me, the piece spoke to the bond between a dog and its human.  The work, love, and play that exists inside this relationship.

About halfway through the evening, two majestic bald eagles greeted us, sitting in the trees of Jon and Jona’s backyard.  Jona shared her knowledge about the eagles and how to tell their age.  These were two younger eagles, as their heads still had a black stripe down the back and their beaks were not completely golden.  Bald eagles visit their home frequently.

As the evening drew to a close, and we were preparing to leave, I noticed one small picture with a powerful quote written underneath.  It stated, “Don’t follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” A great motto to live by!

Thank you, Jon, and Jona for your kindness and hospitality, making it a wonderful evening!