February 12, 2010

Stop & Smell the Lichen

There is cold, and then there is really cold, and I happened across a blogger from Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska (say five times fast) where it is really cold. Found via Meredith, it's a riveting read:
Yesterday I sat in the house, carefully scraping the membrane from a wolf skin. So far this winter we have been blessed with five wolves. With seven red foxes. With one wolverine. It's hard to explain the wealth this brings to mind and body and soul. Most people just see dead animals. We see wealth. We see parka ruffs. We see gifts to family. We see parka trim. We see materials to ward against the unimaginable cold. We see Natures way of providing us with the best to survive. We see protection. We see Inupiaq wealth, which is measured in usefulness and not green smelly money.

It's not as easy as it looks either. We spend at least a hundred fifty dollars a week to be able to even sustain this type of life. And most weeks we gain nothing. Most weeks there is no pay back. but I live with a very lucky man. A very good man. A man they say attracts the animals with his generosity. With his humility. With his willingness to give more than half of his catch to those who need it. With his kind heart and kind words. This is the old way. A way we try our hardest to uphold. It's both simple and complicated but extremely rewarding life.
Her writing is pleasingly lyrical:
I have almost forgotten what it feels like to be in the sunlight. Aapa Winter has completely dominated the land in his gruff and tough love. I have gotten used to wearing down snowpants and my heavy hunting parka. I have gotten used of wearing layers and gloves and heavy face masks. I have gotten used to checking the dogs feet for cuts and broken nails. I have gotten used to seeing the mountains wearing white parkas dappled with tiny floral patterns in gray.

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