Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow Day in the Arctic

Is this a redundancy? Sure, we get lots of snow in the arctic--even full-blown blizzards--but we rarely get snow days. When a blizzard arrives with winds gusting up to 40 mph, however, visibility is reduced to zero, the roads are annihilated and everything shuts down. Even the planes, our only connection with the outside world, have quit flying.

And I love it! The snow envelopes one in a way that feels almost holy. We reconnect with our loved ones, freed from the burdon of all those important responsibilities that suddenly become meaningless with no means of outlet. Think of it as a retreat, a naturally induced retreat. Like hibernation. I've always compared the dark of an arctic winter to hibernation. And believe me, hibernation is a great thing for one who has burnt up major stores of energy frolicking in the midnight sun. Even more so for those past the age of frolicking.

Ah well, at least we still have our gas heat and electricity.  At times like this I think fondly of the wealth of coal we have stored beneath the house. And then, in the next breath, I consider the fact we have nothing to burn it in. Perhaps I should research coal-burning stoves on the Internet. 

At least we still have the internet! Which affords me my laugh of the day:

I'm teaching an online course in Alaska Native/Native American Children's Literature through Ilisagvik College and one of my students  (a teacher in Atqasuk, a small, remote village) posted a message today about doing a class project where the kids re-interpreted Winnie the Pooh for reader's theater, setting it in arctic Alaska. All the animals became arctic animals except for Eeyore, who became, appropriately, "an animal that was brought to Atqasuk and never got a flight home."

Hey it could happen to any of us. It happened to me over 30 years ago. But then, I am not Eeyore.  

The essential question of the day is this: when fate keeps you locked inside your den in the arctic, how will you respond?

I'll just write my way out.

Oh wait, what about the electricity? Should I worry? Check my stock of paper and pens, you say? Write the old way? Never! Now you have truly crossed the line....

On a clear day you can see forever . . .

This, however, is not a clear day. This is my driveway, 30 minutes ago. No, that's not the car, silly. That is randomly drifted snow. No--wait--my husband is correcting me: snow does not drift randomly. Snow drifts very specifically and you will most certainly want to understand exactly what this means and how it works as a navigational aide when you find yourself lost on the tundra on a day like this.