I met a man in Kotzebue who told me he was sure it is possible to hear the sound of the aurora borealis. He said you had to wait for a night when the air was perfectly still and you had to take yourself far out where there were no other sounds whatsoever. The kind of quiet he said where you are suddenly aware of the sound of your heart beating and then as the light descends toward you you can hear it crackling through the atmosphere.Read More
This weekend the Kobuk 440 sled dog race is taking place in arctic Alaska. The start and finish is in Kotzebue and the trail takes the teams 440 miles through the Kobuk Valley. It is April, which means the days are blindingly long, over 14 hours of daylight now, and though the temperatures are considerably more mild there are still all the dangers of winter travel in the arctic--the challenges of river ice, the isolation of the wilderness that deftly punishes the incapable and the unprepared.Read More
The dew point is in the 70s this fine Iowa morning after a night of sirens and what seemed like near misses for Iowa City. Route One north of town washed out after five inches of rain fell. Tornados are due this afternoon. I went outside into the tropical rainforest that used to be my garden to try and catch up on last month's weeding and nature just laughed a big fat nature laugh and let a little more rain pour down on us, and so I hightailed it inside to finish some seriously backlogged editing that harkens back to my favorite time of year in my favorite place. I don't think there could be a landscape any more beautiful than a frozen sea in the light of the long slow dawn like that off the coast of Kotzebue. I love that winter moon that scuds along the horizon. I love that it takes almost six hours for the light to shift from the lavender of twilight to the true sunrise which occurs a little before noon. I will send a crisp ten dollar bill to anyone who can find the polar bear lurking in these pictures! A wildlife photographer I will never be--except by most unfortunate accident! Stay cool Iowa friends.
If you walk a mile or so off shore out across the Chukchi Sea you will see some amazing things. Close to the village the frozen chop looks like a 3D lesson in geometry, fat planks of ice jutting up at right angles--triangles, rectangles, parallelograms of frozen sea. Close to shore the ice formations bring to mind polar bears--for every odalisk of ice seems to have a great hulking body of white just behind it--but no, you tell yourself, you are just imagining things. Just because the largest polar bear ever killed was killed right there in Kotzebue, weighing in at over 2,000 pounds--that was a long time ago--and the polar bears of today are well off shore, out where the ice gives way to open water again.Read More