Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Even the Sun Put On Its Mittens!

"'It's a beauteous evening, calm and free.
Broad sun is sinking down in its tranquility.'
It's 9 pm Cicily do you know where your caribou are?
Chris in the morning here, with an evening storm update. Supposed to be getting more of the white stuff throughout the pm so you might wanna put a shovel to your roofs before they take on more weight. Route 6 is still closed to traffic..."
Chris Stevens, Northern Exposure

Mittens on the Sun?
I'd never heard the expression before but I nodded in full agreement when Adam made some goofy comment about the frigid weather we've been having the last few days being cold enough for the sun to wear mittens! "No, really," he insisted, "Go look the sun has mittens on." So I did what any once a blonde (that's for you Dorothy) would do, bundled up enough to go see what color mittens the Sun wears. I'm eager to report that the Sun wears rainbow colored mittens. If I'd have had my camera I'd have gotten you a picture but I'll give it my best shot of explaining. So have you seen the 'sun dogs' we have back home in Minnesota and Wisconsin? It's a giant circle around the sun usually signifying cold weather. It's like that but they are on either side of the sun looks like the two opposite sides of the rainbow with no bow in between, like this, but this isn't actually in Quinhagak, I got it off the internet.

You get the idea. So it's true, here in the tundra it gets so cold even the sun pulls on a pair of mittens. We were discussing the sharp drop in temps this morning in the office while loading up on caffeine and why 15 below zero in Quin feels so much colder than 15 below anywhere 'down states'? Our new Assistant Principal Les chimed in, "Well, you know we are living on a big block of ice up here. It's called permafrost. So it is colder." Hum, maybe that's why despite our most valiant efforts the last two crispy mornings, the magic school bus still sits frozen solid outside my trailer refusing to take a jump from anything even after being plugged in for the last 48 hours. Go figure. Also today I taught in my snow pants, scarf and hat for the first 4 hours of the day. No kidding, I could see my breath when I walked into our classroom this morning. Brrrrr. I highly encouraged my students to grab their hats before entering our room.

A Hunting We Did Go...

Principal Eric and Jim scan the horizon for the herd

Nope, it's not a misprint...you read it correctly...This weekend we were up early for coffee and pancakes at Principal Eric's excitedly discussing the hunt we were headed out on! Thank you to his momma Jackie who is here visiting from 'down states' and Sherry for the flap jacks! And to Carmen his niece (also visiting) without whom the expedition would surely not have involved me;) Quyana Carmen! Sherry sneakily informed me the night before that a hunting trip (Jim and Principal Eric taking Eric's niece caribou hunting) was planned for the am and would I like to join them. Yep, where should I be and when??? The alarm went off at 8 am and the layers went on. (Me and Carmen to the left, Jim to the right) By the time we were ready to ride not a piece of flesh was exposed. All the while I'm thinking, "Am I going to be able to move fast enough to shoot anything?? By the time I get my gun pulled up and situated amongst all my winter wear the caribou are going to be long gone, lol." I was feeling less like a hunter and more like the abominable snow woman, but I wasn't alone everyone else was looking much the same. Principal Eric let me take Einer's old faithful "Red" snow go, Quyana Einer! Eric and Carmen took their other snow go with a sled in case of success. While Jim hopped on his fancy new aerodynamic ski doo. And there we were speeding off into the tundra like a motorcycle gang gone wrong. (yours truly to the left with 85 layers on) Guns slung around the front of our bodies, again surely in a manner that I would most likely hang myself trying to right it, in the event of a potential shot, but who cared, I was actually going. As we flew across the mounds of tundra blanketed with snow, sun just beginning to peek up over the horizon I couldn't help but cheer! "This is absolutely beautiful! We are snow machining across the tundra at sunrise looking for caribou! Wow! And I look like a sniper with this gun strapped across my chest! Oh how this would make my mum proud!" Just as I was soaking up the scenery, Jim zinged out ahead of the pack pointing and taking us in a totally different direction. What could possibly be causing this suddenly switch? That's right CARIBOU! A whole herd maybe 25 or so stampeding across the frozen terrain like it was AstroTurf, leaving a billowing cloud of snow trailing behind them. Quickly judging their direction, he motioned toward an elevation that would hopefully serve as an ideal point to shoot from. We made a b-line to the little hill, turned off the machines then much to my surprise both Jim and Eric immediately dropped to their knees and proceeded to 'army crawl' up the ridge. Okay, I can do this I assured myself. I flopped down, fell over and I flailed around in the deep snow trying to fight off my over sized parka as it attempted to hog tie me, free at last I continued on wrestle-dragging the ill positioned gun the remainder of the crawl up the hill as it mocked my every forward motion. Finally the summit, I doggedly propped myself up looking through the scope while it insisted on fogging up from my huffing and puffing. There we were, all four of us lying our bellies, a would be war party peering over the crest, we could see the herd. Unfortunately the 'bous', Quin slang for caribou, lol;) were already high tailing it outa there. "Welp, Let's Go!", the guys said as they jumped up and headed back down the hill. 'All that for nothing??' I whined to myself, dragged my body to its feet and tried to keep up with Principal Eric running through the knee deep snow I had just swam up! I wished I could lay down and roll to the foot of the red snow go. No such luck:( We leaped to our machines and were immediately in hot pursuit. Stopping multiple times, we tried to get a decent shot, to no avail. So after strategically yet unsuccessfully sneaking along behind them for the better part of the morning our frozen fingers and toes finally forced us into a surrender. I have to say that it was as wild a hunt as I've ever had. Besides if ya got one every time it wouldn't be hunting and who can shake a stick at tearing around the tundra with the caribou? Thank you very much Principal Eric and Jim for letting me tag along.Caribou Herd Tracks

Shout Out To: The Quinhagak Seahawks Volleyball Team who placed 3rd at Regionals in Akiachuk last weekend!!! Woooo-whooooo Goooooo SEAHAWKS!!! Nice work Coach Steph! And to Lonny who was selected for the All Star Team!

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!...
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments,
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends forth His word and melts them
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
-Psalm 147:12-18-


  1. Dig the Northern Exposure quotes, Rachel. Probably the best show ever if ya ask me!

  2. Totally agree Brian:) I love that series!

  3. I'm SO jealous! I wish my experience here would have been half as welcoming and exciting as your experience there!

  4. Oh my dear friend,
    You know the door is always open down this neck o the tundra. You really should try to make it over this way before the end of the school year. I'm so sorry that things are not working out my heart breaks for you. Rest assured it is not easy if it were everyone would be doing it or that's what mom says when I'm so homesick I want to climb aboard the next plane to land. Soak up some rays for me please. Love the Christmas card too!