Winter and the Energizer Bunny

life in a village, northern exposures

They just keep going and going and going. Twelve degrees F. Mostly sunny.

This is the eave of my house, directly above my door. That snow overhangs my roof by 10 inches and is 10 inches deep, too. Some day soon I will shut my door and the snow will avalanche onto my head. I make sure my hood is on before I go out.

There is a lot of talk and activity around town these days. The kind of talk and activity that spells S-P-R-I-N-G. Nell dug out the snow from in front of his house today. Gracie already has told me all about her plans to start a garden as soon as the snow clears and the ground thaws. Snow machines whine by late into the night now. And a few days ago Franklin told me that geese have been spotted in Delta.

This is significant because it evidences a cultural phenomenon and a highly effective communications network that is completely independent of the media. Franklin didn’t read about the geese in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. Oh, they published the story, alright. But by the time they went to print it was obsolete news. If the geese first appeared in Delta 250 miles to the south of us and on the other side of the White Mountains at 5 pm in the afternoon, then Franklin learned about it before 6:00 pm. The reporting of geese sightings is a solemn obligation among Alaska Natives, and it is one that they faithfully uphold. Updates about the geese fly around the state at the speed of light. Yes, I know you think I am exaggerating. And no, I am not. Franklin will know within minutes of the first goose landing at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks. He has already estimated that the geese will arrive here in about two weeks, based on the Delta sighting. Franklin is a 9th grader who hunts and traps and fishes to help feed his family. He is nature wise and takes subsistence living very seriously. In fact, the whole community does and that includes our school. Hunting is an excused absence.

As you can see from this picture of the Yukon River, the ice is showing signs of fatigue. I have to leave town on April 20, and I hope I do not miss the breakup. I had to travel to Fairbanks last spring and the river broke while I was away. The surface of the snow out on the river has become grainy, something like ice pellets. This place is about 200 yards west of where Carnival took place.

Mahsi’ Choo

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5 thoughts on “Winter and the Energizer Bunny

  1. How exciting to wait for spring in there… I felt myself as if I am one of them who lives there… After long and coldest winter days, to have spring should be the most beautiful gift of nature world… As I understood that hunting is the most importating thing during spring… But also this river makes me excited too… how would melt and break… Thank you dear Dave, I hope you don’t miss these moments and you can also take its pictures too… By the way, can I ask this, what means this Mahci’ Choo… Sounds so nice…. With my love, nia

    1. Good afternoon, Nia! As I write this, my students are listening to Sebnim Ferah and enjoying the Atlas magazine. All my students loved your letter, and several asked to be able to read it to the class. They are quite impressed that you wanted to be part of our school and are planning some surprises for you.

      Thank you very much, Nia. You will be hearing from your classmates soon in a few weeks!

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