Monday, October 1, 2007

What A Difference A Day Makes!

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.

(Click on photo for larger image or to see more.)

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.
Frozen Berries3

A cool way to arrive at school, huh?
Arriving at school

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!

Rudy by the River

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!

Pond in Front1

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.



Steve said...

You're a really good writer, Kimberlee! And your blog is a very pleasantly educational account of the lifestyle and geography of that section of the North Slope. Great job.

Kimberlee said...

Thank you for the kind and encouraging words, Steve. I value your opinion a great deal. Being the wonderful writer that YOU are, I'm really glad to know you're enjoying my blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Rm said...

Kimberlee, your writing is so enjoyable to read. When is your children's book coming out? Which one is first? The one about the children on a seal hunt or the seasons in an arctic village? Can't wait!

Kimberlee said...

LOL! Thanks for the wonderful optimism, RM! I'm still trying to get used to the idea of people reading things I've written! It's still a little scary. I am so glad to know that you are enjoying the blog. Thanks for letting me know. :)

Littie said...

Hey Aunt Kim. We just had the first sticking snowfall here.....Its pretty cool. I really like your blog! I wish I could write half as well as you do. Its not only nice sounding, its very informative too. Im glad you made it! :)

Kimberlee said...

Hey, Littie Bit! Thanks for stopping by! I think I heard through the grapevine that YOU are becoming a pretty terrific writer, yourself! :) (How is that online class going?) I'm really glad you like the blog. I hope you'll check back often and say hello. So, was your snow the softly-falling-vertical kind or sideways snow? We've had both.

Johnny said...

Your photos and narative were great as usual. We are having a taste of fall, but that is to end by Monday when the muggies return. Meanwhile, we will enjoy the weekend and the Gumbo Festival. Mmmmmmmmmm Good!

Kimberlee said...

Gumbo! Wow! I haven't thought about that in a while. I wonder if I have any sausage in the freezer? :)

The weather here has developed an unexpected twist. The dirt on the roads around the village were so parched from our super-dry summer that they haven't frozen as they normally would. For the last several days it has been very windy and all that loose dirt is mixing with the snow. It's a VERY irritating phenomenon. I've been thinking about doing a posting about it, but haven't decided yet. I'm afraid it would develop into more of a rant than anything else! :)

Enjoy your short term fall weather!