Friday, February 29, 2008


Sea Ice

I flew to Barrow on Wednesday to meet a friend from New Orleans who is leading some meetings at my church. Over the five and a half years that I have lived in Atqasuk a few of my family members have visited me here, but this was the first time that a friend had dared to venture above the Arctic Circle. Needless to say, I was pretty excited! I'm not usually a big fan of air travel, but this flight to Barrow was something I was looking forward to.

If connected on a map, the villages of Atqasuk, Wainwright, and Barrow form a geographical triangle which is the regular flight pattern of the airlines servicing our area. So my flight to Barrow began with a leg to Wainwright some seventy miles away. Flying low, we were graced with sightings of several small herds of caribou and, at one point, we saw a few that appeared to be running away from something. Passengers on the other side of the plane said that a wolf was chasing them. I missed the wolf, but the caribou were really fun to see, running full-stride, almost in unison...very different from their usual quiet grazing.

Wainwright is a coastal village, so much of that final leg of the trip toward Barrow was spent flying along the edge of the Arctic Ocean. The patterns of drifted snow and cracking sea ice were mesmerizing. My photos, taken through an ice-fogged window, don't do justice to the artistry of the wind and the cold.

Although I'm not crazy about flying, I have to admit, that the view from the air is often an inspiration. The advantage of a little elevation affects perspective as nothing else can. The seemingly haphazard arrangement of snowdrifts can be painfully jarring when experienced from the seat of a snow machine, but from the air the obvious pattern makes perfect sense. Arctic wind spends most of the winter cutting and carving, shifting and moulding, piles of frozen moisture. The final product is difficult to fully appreciate from the ground.

As I trudge up and down those challenging drifts that comprise my daily walk, I want to remember, I need to remember, that elevated view and appreciate the coherent beauty of a seemingly haphazard landscape that can only be understood one step at a time.


Another view of the sea ice...

Sea ice on Arctic Ocean

Fuzzy view over my pilot's shoulder...

Sorry so get the idea. :)

Approaching Barrow...

Approaching Barrow...

Almost there...

Almost there...

A smooth landing at the end of a smooth flight...can't complain about that!

Aaaah! A smooth flight and a smooth landing!

Uneventful favorite kind!

My faithful chariot


Steve said...

Hi, Kimberlee. Those were fun pictures to see from the airplane, and I like seeing the plane itself, too. I hope you and your visiting friend have a great time.

The idea of elevation is full of so much symbolic usefulness. I have wanted, for some time, to write about the therapeutic properties, but haven't, yet. But the big point has to do with the cool fact that another word for elevation is 'relief'! It can be no coincidence that so many people like to hike in the mountains.

Thanks for sharing your mind-opening thoughts.

Kimberlee said...

Thank you, Steve, for those kind words! I'm really glad that you picked up on what I was trying to say! :) I was pretty tired when I wrote the entry and wasn't sure I was actually communicating what was in my heart.

Thanks, too, for sharing your thoughts about elevation and "relief." I hadn't thought of that and it's certainly a very rich connection. If you ever do write something about this subject I hope you'll let me know. I'd love to hear more!

Jo said...

What gorgeous pictures and such a beautiful reflection... very meaningful and so true.
I'm glad you had some time to enjoy a dear friend!

Kimberlee said...

Thanks, Jo. I'm so glad you liked the pictures and could relate to my thoughts about elevation. Having a visitor has been such a treat! I'll probably share more about that soon. Thanks for stopping by!

Floridacracker said...

I've been catching up, reading your most recent posts and marveling at that Alaskan landscape.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your part of the world.

Kimberlee said...

Hi there, FC! Thanks for stopping by! I have to return the comment that you made. When I remember living in the South, the inconvenience and irritation of heat and humidity usually color my memories, but your blog reminds me of the beautiful and interesting aspects of that for sharing your part of the world! It's an exchange I really enjoy.