New Traditions

Our driftwood Christmas tree and all the decorations–including the German-made blown glass ornaments–made it to Point Hope intact. 

There’s a lot about living up here that is decidedly not easy. It’s cold and dark and although we fill our days with work and  projects, we miss things like bike rides downtown, walks through forests, evenings out and daughter Maia and  friends. On the other hand, living up here has led us to new ways of doing things that we’ve come to fully embrace. I can’t imagine us ever again buying store-made bread or baked goods with any regularity. (We’re trying our hand at our first-ever homemade bagels as I write this.) The same goes for pasta–doubling the amount of semolina flour we brought with us this year is already on the list for next year. The best lox we’ve ever had is the lox we made ourselves from the Chinook we caught this past summer. And we can imagine that there will always be a place in our home for the Christmas tree we made from driftwood we found on the shores of Sarichef Island when we lived in Shishmaref.

Drifting and Dancing Wood


There are beautiful pieces of driftwood on our beaches here in Point Hope. The piece above looked like ocean animals doing a dance among the summer flowers. I never really thought about where driftwood might travel from until yesterday. I realized that this wood traveled in from the ocean, maybe hundreds or thousands of miles from my village. There are no trees here. The closest trees are small willows that grow up river some ways away. Each piece of driftwood, some as small as sticks and some as large as entire tree trunks, has a story. Maybe they came from Japan or Russia? Where have they come from? How did they come to be on this beach? What caused them to drift? What did they experience along the way?