Bush Alaska: Arctic Snow Fence


The first snow fell a few days ago. Brilliant sunshine melted it. Snow fell again yesterday. So far the sun is winning the battle. As the days are getting shorter, it is certain that the snow will win.

Our lagoon has iced over in large patches. There are short tracks on the ice where people have briefly ventured out but returned.

The snow fence stands ready for the winter. It looks strong and resilient having beaten back the drifts year after year.

The fence in Point Hope looks much sturdier compared to the fence in Shishmaref  (http://wp.me/p1305P-1T). This can only mean that we are ready for gale force winds.

Rock Patterns

Ice scraped past in the form of a glacier, high above the ground and left this beautiful rock pattern.

Shot taken at the top of Exit Glacier on the edge of the Harding Ice Field.

Ice Lace

The sun is shining most days. The sun now barely stretches into the sky as we walk to school. It sets well after our bedtime. Somedays we have a taste of “spring.” Drips of melting snow and ice begin to trickle and drop from eaves. Then the temperature falls again. Minus 17 this morning. This step into spring and back creates interesting icicles. The snow drifts are still up against buildings allowing the children easy access to harvest these icy treasures. The icicles have been pouring down our eaves and also have been left as small presents by our young visitors. Sweet.

Frozen Wave Breaking

The cold bright sun causes changes in the snow and ice.  As the light and temperature changes, there are more photographic opportunities to capture Mother Nature’s art.

I love the interplay of the shadows and the sparkle of the snow as this wave is seemingly frozen in time.

One man’s trash

The dump.

City girl lands in bush Alaska. So, when’s trash day?

I’m not really that clueless. So, how does the trash get to the dump? There is a plywood box with a hinged lid by the end of our house. We take the trash out, carefully tied, to the box until there is about a truckload’s worth of trash. When we first unpacked, the trash accumulated quickly. I am pleased to say it doesn’t pile up as quickly any more. When we have a truckload, we get the key to the school’s truck, fill the back and drive out to the dump, which is about two miles away. We back in as far as we can, dump everything and then (my favorite part!) we light it on fire!

The dump is interesting. Archeologists find so much information about ancient peoples in dumps. The same could be said here. There are thousands of pop cans (up here we say “pop” not “soda”). I have seen different animal skins and all kinds of appliances. We burn everything here. If it doesn’t burn, it will rust or disintegrate eventually (in theory). There are two big incinerators. Relics of someone’s good idea that also has been dumped. The thing that was most out of place was an aged, rusted shopping cart. I can’t imagine how and why that came to Shishmaref.

As far as our contributions to the trash, I have noticed we are not producing much. In Sacramento, we had the smallest trash can available and only filled that halfway every week. We recycled and composted everything. We knew up here that we couldn’t recycle or compost. We were resigned to live with the idea that we would be creating way more trash. Something interesting has happened. Since we bake our own bread and cook everything from scratch, we don’t use packaged items. We reuse ziplock bags and containers to reduce our trash. We rarely drink pop. It seems we are producing about the same amount of trash as we were in Sacramento.