Howling Summer Wind

It’s snowing.

First snow for us since we got here, up at the top of the world. It’s beautiful. I woke up to a city being blanketed.

I only slept five hours last night, but I feel like it might be okay. Our sponsor Laura told us yesterday that she only sleeps 4-6 hours a night in the summer. It’s just how your body adjusts– your circadian rhythm playing with the light.

In the winter I’m sure I might sleep a lot more, but I’m going to run with the idea that five hours a night is good. And see what I can get done.

And besides, mornings are some of the best times to write.

The wind howls out the window.

I need to start wearing sunglasses daily. The locals told us you will feel a tiny ache in between your eyes on your forehead in the evenings if you don’t. Especially people prone to headaches. The sunlight is so bright up here– the way the Earth is angled. You don’t really notice it during the day, but you definitely feel it a little bit in the evenings.

720 miles to vertically cross the state of Alaska from Anchorage to Barrow:  the same distance as it is from Seattle, Washington to San Francisco, California. This is a massive state. And we are at the very tip top of it, on the ocean.

We are the only unarmed people in the city of Barrow. Talked to people about all the wildlife in the area… it’s an Arctic jungle. You bring your gun out with you to take the trash out.

Barrow is the meeting point of two seas: the Chukchi Sea to the East, and the Beaufort Sea to the west. Seas are divided according to currents, direction, and the specific ecosystem created within each flow. The merging of these two ecosystems creates something called the upwelling system- two ocean currents, or gyres, crashing together and creating a hotspot for life and tiny creatures– pushed together by the fate of the ocean flow. And then all of the big creatures– whales, polar bears, seals, follow the food flow to this critical point in the ocean.

It’s no accident that point Barrow is a whaling community- the whales just gravitate to Barrow. And the people here make a life with the animals.

Point Barrow is also the location of Barrow canyon– an underwater depth yet to be discovered by man. The canyon also influences the upwelling system– providing the rich environment for this vast array of Arctic life.

This is all wild, man.

It’s freezing cold out with wind today– snow in your face. Really feeling the Arctic today. Finally feel like we’re here.

There’s no getting around the frozen toes in rubber boots.

So it is snowing today. And we are slowly becoming a part of the environment.

I locked the van door when we went into a building because I had my laptop inside. And when we got back out our sponsor was stating strongly, “Do not lock cars in Barrow.”

Don’t lock cars in Barrow.

One in the afternoon, 29 degrees and 21 mph wind. And lots of snow. Barrow is actually an “arctic desert,” in that it receives very little snow and precipitation. However, today is a snowy day. And it feels like the holidays. We’re all bundled up, hugging each other with our big parkas, ruffling each others’ hair, holding hands with our big puffy gloves, smiles upon smiles. Throwing snowballs and pouncing on one another. We are happy. We are cold. We are here. And we are disgustingly in love with one another.

But really, there’s got to be something about human contact in a climate like this. Warms you up, makes you feel less alone next to this giant slab of icy sea that extends across the top of the world. Makes you realize what you’re here for.

What are we here for?

We are officially here to bulid a tundra garden, and hopefully begin a process of integrating more vegetables and fibers into the local diets here. While that seems a little imposing and culturally imperialistic from the get go, our sponsors are leading the project in a very respectful and culturally sensitive way. They are not forcing anyone to build their own tundra garden, they are merely providing the resources in case anyone wants to run with it.

So here’s to snow. Here is to summer. Here is to these crazy people that I’m up here with.

I love them so much.

And I love this wild country experience.

 

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