Frozen eyelashes and frozen hair are both fairly commonplace around here, but eyelashes frozen to frozen hair? Now, that was a first for me! When I left for school this morning the thermometer read -45.9. All along the way, my breath collected back on my face and parka, so that by the time I reached the playground I could feel the tug of my hair pulling on my eyelashes every time I tried to blink (or maybe it was my eyelashes tugging on my hair). So, I decided to attempt to capture this very typical arctic anomaly with the camera. Please forgive the fuzziness. Small buttons, freezing fingers...not a good combination!
Over the last several days our temperatures have hovered around forty-five degrees below zero. It has really wreaked havoc with our school schedule this week because we aren't allowed to run the school bus when the ambient temperature is colder than forty below. That is a fairly new development, though. Until the spring of 2006, school was rarely canceled, even for a blizzard, much less a little cold snap. So the wisdom of that policy is still the focus of considerable debate around the district.
But, bus or no bus, teachers are still expected to show up. So I arrived this morning, as every morning this time of year, with frost on my ruff and frost on my face. When I entered the school the frost quickly began to melt leaving my face wet, even dripping a little. My friend and fellow teacher, Ami, and I laughed about the futility of wearing make-up around here. I know there is such a thing as waterproof mascara, but I have to wonder what happens to that stuff when your eyelashes freeze. And I have a feeling they don't explain that on the box.
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")