Cloud cover broke on Saturday revealing, for a few short moments, a slim stretch of southern sky, ablaze with long-forgotten glory. I stood on a snowy hill captivated by the brilliance and intensity. Nuna seemed to be yawning, stretching a little, stirring from her long winter nap. Her eyes fluttered, but never completely opened.
Tomorrow, I think. Or maybe the next day.
The faint breeze was warm enough to prompt lowering my parka hood, yet cold enough to make me sorry that I'd done it. Ears stinging, I lifted my hood and walked eastward, toward the river where snow fences stand at attention, while the building breeze nudged me from behind.
By the time I reached the snow fences, only a few minutes later, the wind was already picking up and kicking up lots of snow.
Heading home, I passed the spot where I'd just taken pictures of the sunlight. Gone were the oranges, purples, and pinks. Nuna's eyes had shut tight again with the covers pulled up over her head.
Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after.
Riders on snow machines raced around the village, hunkering down against the sting of blowing snow. I was actually enjoying the wind and the tapping sound of snow pelting my parka.
I held tightly to my dog's leash as the wind whipped it sideways with ferocious jerks. I smiled at the (silly) thought of my dog, if only a few pounds lighter, suddenly becoming airborne like a kite. It could happen.
Judging by his pace, as he struggled to get back home, I think my dog might have had the same idea.
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")