Saturday, August 15, 2009

Familiar Story with a Twist

Whether we like it or not, the carefree fun of summer is just about played out. But don't despair! The cold winds of autumn have blown a new game into town.


Okay, not such a new game. Most of the U.S., of course, has had a long-standing and intimate relationship with American football for many decades. But, here in the Arctic, that hasn't always been the case.

Arctic football was instituted on the North Slope about two or three years ago amid the rumble of an extremely controversial storm. Even today, sensible points of view on either side of the argument still elicit heated discussion within certain circles across the Slope.

Yet, the games play on.

In Barrow, the teams are average-sized, in most respects, with plenty of players to fill each position on the field, but the village teams are smaller, in both size and number, and tend to be less typical in other ways as well.

Village schools play "eight-man football," a version with slightly different rules, making play more feasible and fun for the smaller teams. Even before the official first day of school for students, our local team has been practicing. A jamboree is on the horizon and our Eagles hope to soar.

In spite of temperatures in the thirties and cold mist chilling most faces, an enthusiastic desire to learn and improve keeps bodies moving while the dirt flies.

Nothing special or unique in any of that, I guess. Football teams across the country are all doing much the same thing.

The cool thing is, on our team, about a third of the guys...

...aren't guys at all!

Our Secret Weapons!

Friday, August 14, 2009

End of Summer

Where in the world did the summer go?

(I know, I know...Australia!)

It seems to have slipped behind the clouds while attention was trained on a recent thunderstorm. As I write this, our ambient temperature is 34 (F) with a windchill of 24 degrees. After the last two or three days' rain and wind, the cotton grass around the village now more closely resembles the wet, matted fur of a freshly-bathed cat than the fluffy balls of cotton in the photograph above.

The sun dips progressively lower in the sky as if weary from months of radiating around the clock. Two weeks ago we had a string of pleasant, though windy, blue-sky days and anyone with a four-wheeler got outside and made the most of it.

Hunters went hunting. Fishers went fishing. Pickers went picking. And big brothers took little sisters for rides around the village, enjoying the fresh scent of wet summer grass and the warm caress of sun on their cheeks that will be a memory all too soon.

Quiet moments of sun-splashed Summer grow shorter and fainter every day...

while Autumn slips in a silent finger and does some doodling in the sand.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brown-Out, Blackout Blues

The thrill is gone.

Can you hear it?

The thrill is gone.

Can you feel it?

The strum and twang and thump of my soul's invisible guitar?

The hoarse, even course, misery-laden voice of one who's been done oh, so wrong?

Yep, that's me.

Begging, borrowing, not-yet-stealing connectivity.

I've got them "brown out done caused a week-long internet blackout blues."

And I feel so bad.

So downright sad.

Oh, yes I do.

Them brown-out-blackout-blues.