My out-of-town company left on today’s morning flight. The house has been full all week…full of laughter and good conversation and the sweet aroma of lemon cake baking in the oven. My dogs were completely spoiled by the extra hands available for petting, throwing balls, and dispensing treats. It was a busy, slightly crazy, extremely entertaining holiday.
Now it’s quiet for the first time in days and, although I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, it feels good to settle and be still for a while. The TV and the stereo are off. The only sounds I hear are the hum of the refrigerator, an occasional swishing of hot glycol through the baseboard pipes, and the soft rhythmic breathing of two sleepy dogs stretched out at my feet. I like it like this.
As I sit here snuggled up on the couch, my mind keeps going back to yesterday. It was my birthday. Maybe I’m getting to the age that I should be trying to forget that I’m aging rather than drawing attention to it, but that just doesn’t seem to matter right now. In my mind, birthdays should be less about keeping track and more about celebrating what all those candles really represent—life!
I did some reading about the history of the birthday celebration and discovered that there is a lot of superstition behind many of the traditions that we hold dear today. For example, it was believed that the laughing and singing associated with a birthday party could ward off evil spirits. And even the flames and smoke of birthday candles were thought to have much the same effect.
Although I’m not superstitious, I do agree that being able to share the day with others is a powerful thing. My birthday was peppered with phone calls from family members and friends that I love. Better than little wax torches on a cake, those are the real candles of my life—the people who brighten my existence with their care and understanding. As I think back on the years that have passed and look forward to those ahead, I am extremely grateful for the individuals that have and will share the journey.
To each of the candles in my life…your light and warmth mean more than I can express. Thank you for being who you are and for sharing that gift with me.
Welcome to the Arctic! This space is dedicated to observations and experiences related to daily life in the Inupiat Eskimo village of Atqasuk. Questions and comments are invited. Thanks for visiting! Quyanaqpaq!
nuna:tundra, the land atikluk:snow shirt, parka cover
Interested in Inuit culture? Check out these films...
The Fast Runner is an excellent representation of ancient Inuit culture. The R-rating is for nudity, violence, and some language. Subtitles are utilized throughout. I do not recommend this film for children, but it's an extremely accurate portrayal of the culture. It was introduced to me by an Inupiat woman who raved about it. And I agree!
For a preview, click here.
The Snow Walker is another excellent representation of Inuit culture circa 1940's. This film is rated PG, I'm guessing for language. No subtitles that I remember. It starts a little slow, but gets much better. It will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the survival skills of this culture.
For a preview, click here.
Great For Kids!
Whale Snow by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a warm and culturally sensitive story centered on the Inupiat subsistence tradition of whaling. It is available in both English and Inupiaq translation. The illustrations, by Annie Patterson are exquisite and add to the quiet softness that the story inspires.
To order this title on Amazon.com, click here.
The Alaska Geographic series is an excellent informational resource. The edition entitled North Slope Now deals exclusively with this area and even features relatives of my students. Although it was published in 1989, it is still current enough to provide a general understanding of culture, lifestyle, and issues faced by this northern-most region.
To order this title from Alaska Geographic, click here.
More about Kaktovik Disaster of 2005 (from Dec post, "The Edge")