Well, maybe not just one day....three or four days, at least. All those beautiful autumn colors have been silently replaced by a thin veil of fluffy white nutagaq (freshly fallen snow). There should be a dot over the "g" in nutagaq, but if there's a way to do that on this program...I don't know about it yet. So, for those fluent Inupiaq speakers/readers who noticed the naked "g," please forgive the omission!
The first real snow of the year tends to make everyone frisky. There is a freshness about the way nature wipes the slate clean that is tangible and exciting. Thoughts of snow fights and sledding and building snow tunnels quicken the pulse and add a glint to even the elders' eyes. Snow machines that have been lying dormant throughout the summer months are gassed up, oiled up, and fired up. We don't yet have enough snow for the snow machines (snow mobiles) to be in full force, but it won't be much longer. For now, Hondas (any brand of four-wheeler) are the vehicle of choice. But soon, wind and colder temperatures will send the Hondas into winter storage...usually a nice blanket of snow that keeps getting thicker and thicker and thicker.
This isn't really winter yet. This is that difficult-to-define time of year when autumn and winter seem content to lace their fingers and walk together for a while. As the earth shifts and the sun slips out of sight, winter will have the upper hand soon enough.
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Autumn's cranberries, left behind, are kept in a natural freezer! Parka squirrels and caribou will continue to nibble them for a while, but the rest will become a part of the tundra, possibly seeding the ground for next year.
A cool way to arrive at school, huh?
If you look closely and turn your head just right you can see my dog Rudy walking down by the Meade River. You can see that ice is already beginning to form along the edge of the river. Believe it or not, in a few weeks the ice will be thick enough for ice fishing!
This is the pond in front of my house. I took this photo a few days ago when there was still some open water. It's pretty much frozen over now. I'm told that it's only about ten or twelve feet deep. So, during the winter it freezes solid...all the way to the bottom! The ice buckles and cracks and makes some really frightening noises. It's a great place to walk my dogs because it's relatively flat and easy to walk on once it's covered with packed snow. At this point, it's frozen, but I don't really trust it. My dogs walked on it yesterday, but I kept waiting for one of them to get a surprisingly cold bath!
This photo was taken a day or two after the one above. The bumpy, uneven mounds of ice that you see on the surface of the pond is the ridge line that formed as the wind blew water up and over the already frozen ice and then that water froze as well. In a few weeks the ridge will be covered over with snow and almost impossible to see. I have been walking my dogs on this pond for a few years and have tripped over that buried ice ridge more than a few times. This is the first time that I actually got to see if form. I'd like to think that I'll remember it's there this year. I guess we'll see.
3 years ago