As some of you are aware, we're already gaining sunlight again! With every passing day the twilight in the southern sky noticeably increases in both duration and intensity. Toward the end of this month the sun will venture above the horizon for the first time in approximately sixty days. But, until then, the dark sky provides a perfect backdrop for any type of illumination.
Around midnight on New Year's Eve I heard the familiar percussion of fireworks "thunking" against my window. I left my two extremely irritated dogs yapping wildly inside the house and ventured out into the -20 degree air for a better view of the show staged on the southern bank of the pond directly in front of my house.
The stiff breeze of 15 to 20 mph made outdoor viewing rather uncomfortable, but that didn't deter the community from coming out in full force. Snow machines were darting and zooming from every direction. A few slowed up and parked right in the middle of the frozen pond as if arriving at an arctic drive-in! My photos don't do justice to the impressive scale or variety of the display, but I thought the vibrant colors and feathering effect of the wind made for some interesting (if not high quality) images.
For about forty minutes, this could have been Anytown, USA...each explosion reflected in the sparkling eyes and delighted cheers of the crowd. It's a touching thing when a community comes together. People who have been somewhat hidden from each other, huddled in their respective houses, quietly shake off their winter mantle just long enough to wave and call out to each other, "Happy New Year!" before moving on.
I really have to hand it to the Ivanoff brothers. Being the fire chief and first assistant, it's a little ironic that they are so good at setting fires! For several years now they have put on a New Year's Eve extravaganza at their own expense. I, for one, sincerely appreciate their generous efforts.
(To see more photos...click on any image.)
This is the preferred mode of transportation in the winter here. Apparently, it comes in handy for fireworks viewing as well. Although the wind caused -20 to feel like negative 50's that night, I think Stephen was plenty warm in his camouflage parka. I can't be sure about his poor face, though.
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")