Arctic cotton is white, Forget-me-nots are blue, Akpiks are sweet, And so are you.
(Written by a very adorable fourth grader for his mother on Valentine’s Day.) _______________________________________________________________
It was a sweet day full of all those typical activities that Valentine’s Day inspires….well, at least those activities enjoyed by fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. We made construction paper valentines and semi-homemade experimental peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. The cards were really sweet. The cookies were…not so much.
Although I prefer the personal touch of child-crafted valentines, kids are always excited by the commercial variety. But this year, for one reason or another, there were no prepackaged valentines to be had in this village. So we pulled out the red, white, and pink construction paper, hefty bottles of Elmer’s, brightly colored tissue paper, and gathered poetic inspiration from the internet compliments of Google Search…an interesting experience!
The initial plan for sugar cookies was thwarted earlier in the week when I realized that several key ingredients were missing from my pantry. We improvised with four packages of peanut butter cookie mix and comforted ourselves with the idea of adding other ingredients to put our own unique stamp on the confection. Unfortunately, what we ended up with had more in common with peanut butter flavored baseballs, than actual cookies. But we learned from the experience and had a good laugh along the way. And that seemed like an acceptable trade off. Kids never complain about wasting time making cookies…even bad ones.
Throughout the hours that we busied ourselves with Valentine’s Day activities, I don’t think romance was ever mentioned. And, the truth is, I really liked that. Cards were made by girls and boys…for family members, friends, and even a teacher or two. One girl drew a picture of a cigarette in the middle of the card for her grandmother. I have no idea what the cigarette was supposed to represent and she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) explain it, but I have no doubt that, whatever it meant, it came straight from her heart. Was it romantic? Not in the least. Was it a genuine expression of love? Absolutely!
On this holiday that our media-driven society has narrowly defined as a day for lovers, I am happy to report that my classroom is full of them…real lovers. Most of them are little more than four feet tall, but they all have hearts as willing to love as any I’ve seen. And that makes me hopeful and thankful on a day that could easily seem lacking in so many ways. It reminds me that love comes in lots of different packages...not always wrapped in a heart-shaped box with a tidy bow. Sometimes it comes wearing an old tee shirt with ketchup stains left over from yesterday’s lunch.
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")