One Man's Paradise

Anticipation

Winter made his first foray into central Alaska with snow and freezing temperatures. It seems unreal to read about fall colors just arriving in parts of the lower 48s. Nevertheless, the writing is on the wall: Winter is coming. I am taking it easy, currently. No work commitment, no deadlines. That gives me time to go through memory cards from last winter that are still loaded with some unedited images.

It makes quite a difference to sit in a warm cabin and look at the pictures taken at dawn, the coldest time of the day, when it takes some determination to step outside and set up the camera. In February the lowest temp was -45 degrees Fahrenheit. For most people that’s cold.

Nevertheless, the light and sounds in those circumstances are remarkable, I can’t say much about scent, since nose hair are frozen and nerve endings seem temporarily disengaged. Well, here are some pictures that bring back memories of a silent, cold winter morning in the Brooks Range.


Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.”

― Nicholas Sparks


Ah, the quote. Why am I writing this? Am I looking forward to another winter in Alaska? The jury is still out on that. However, I am looking forward to unrestricted travel and a manageable pandemic. Please do your part to get this outbreak under control.

Cheers

Standard
One Man's Paradise

Above the Arctic

The Arctic is a place that needs to be experienced, which is probably true for any place…

Words and images can only do so much, but what does vast, rugged, remote mean to you if you have not experienced frigid days hundreds of miles away from the next road, surrounded by swarms of mosquitoes, or standing on a mountain top, seeing ridges and swamps and lakes and rivers? What about the midnight sun or Northern lights. Or a herd of caribou, crossing the tundra with ease. Or musk oxen, that were once thriving in this inhospitable place…

As Emerson writes there is also something else about this place that touches, if we only take the time to experience it.


In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Standard
Life

Forever

Today, I read an article about efforts to revert the aging process in humans. This just shows the world is going totally bonkers. Not that we already have too many people on the planet, poor ones starving to death, rich ones orbiting around the planet for a day… No, now we let some ultra-rich take a drug that makes them immortal.

Off all nightmare scenarios that science comes up with, longevity is probably one of the worst. Forget about another meteor, or a massive nuclear war. That would be sudden death for most of us.

Having immortal billionaires around and mortal masses, that’s just nuts.

Money is now more than ever shape our future. Science funded by billionaires without ethics oversight…

I am shocked.

If you want to read more about this: Search for “Altos Labs”. They are not the only ones.

Standard
One Man's Paradise

Appreciation

While others celebrate the end of summer, in the Arctic we experience the beginning of winter with below freezing temperatures and 24 hours of steady snowfall.

After a wet summer there were a few gorgeous fall days, a rich blueberry harvest, and a few memorable wildlife encounters. Without much warning winter did return and threw his white blanket on the landscape.

There is no question in my mind that this harsh and beautiful place deserves our appreciation and protection.



“You won’t save what you don’t love and you can’t love what you don’t know.”

Jacques Cousteau
Standard
Inside Out

Déja Vu

Like yesteryear, the world is divided. Hurricanes batter the coast, wildfires torch the land. We have a pandemic, although this time we have vaccines that could prevent much hardship. We have believers and deniers…

Summer is on his way out in the Arctic. The mosquitoes are gone. We had a blockbuster blueberry crop, tundra colors a peaking. Cloudy skies, termination dust, hunting season…


“At some point, you will hit a plateau. If you keep doing same things you did to get to that point, make a change.”

J.R. Rim

I crave for change.

Standard
Dispatches from the Corona Experiment

Dispatches from the Cold – № 1

In the spirit of pandemic isolation I moved from a comfy city apartment to an off-grid cabin in the woods. Was it cold? Glad you ask. The thermometer I trusted most showed negative 42.5 Celsius, there were others that showed even lower numbers, but give or take a few degrees below -40 degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit, that’s cold!

The first indication of this frigid situation were shiny crystals covering all surfaces of the interior. They were inside the cabinets, on the walls, just about everywhere.

Then there were the door nobs. Turning a door knob with bare hands caused some instant burning sensation. Same thing with the house key. One of the cabins has an outside key lock. You punch in a number and then remove the key to open the door. My skin turned instantly white where I had touched the metal box, the key pad and the key. I did that only once with my bare hands.

When I took of my boots, a cloud of hot air rose from my feet, as if they were on fire. It was just warm humidity hitting the biting cold air.

The last memorable impression was the mattress. Frozen solid. Sleep number 1000. It was hard as rock. I slept the first night in with three layers of winter gear until the cabin had warmed up. There are still some corners low on the ground where I could see ice crystals. I use those corners as my indoor fridge.


“Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”

Henry David Thoreau


Now, a day later its nice and cozy, grace to a propane furnace. Hope that thing will keep me warm for the rest of winter. That furnace, insulated walls and an arctic entry way, are the only thing separating me from the bitter cold.

I hope there will be more dispatches from the cold with more agreeable temperatures, though.

Stay warm.

Stay safe.

Standard
One Man's Paradise

Waiting for the Sun V

This is the Chandalar Shelf, birth place of the North fork of the Chandalar, formerly known as the Chandalar River. Early traders had named the river after a native tribe that hunted in the area: “Gens de Large” which, when written in English mutated into Chandalar. “Gens de Large” referred to “people of the open country”, “people who dwell far from the water” or simply “strong people” in reference to their strenuous life on the barren land. They were distinguished by their trade with the Kangmaligmut and by the manufacture of strong babiche, a type of cord or lacing of rawhide or sinew.


Gens de Large River Indian Natives, at Camp 29, on Robert Creek. Looking south. Klute District, Copper River Region, Alaska. 1898. – ID. Schrader, F.C. 347 – sfc00347 – U.S. Geological Survey – Public domain image

Chandalar Shelf is also a place where thousands of caribou spent the winter. Wind blown, the valley allows caribou to find food below the thin layer of snow. Apparently they can handle the cold alright, as long as there is a sufficient food supply.

Standard
One Man's Paradise

Waiting for the Sun IV

Apricity – the warmth of the sun in winter


While looking for a quote to go with today’s image I came across the word “apricity”, which I had never heard before. The other day I mentioned to a colleague that it feels so much warmer today compared to yesterday. The day before it was overcast and -20 F. Today was sunny, clear skies. Same temperature. I guess our minds played a trick on us. It felt warmer, just because we could see the sun. Now I am wondering where apricity fits in… The warmth of the sun in winter. Real or simply imagined?

Stay warm.


Standard
Inside Out

Waiting for the Sun III

First light in the Arctic. It’s already noon when the sun brushes the mountain tops. The valleys remain in the shade where frost keeps accumulating on the occasional shrub. Not before long the sun will dip below horizon. Twilight for a few more hours. Then darkness, except for the sparkling stars. That’s the rhythm of winter.


“Besides, I’ve been feeling a little blue — just a pale, elusive azure. It isn’t serious enough for anything darker.”

L.M. Montgomery
Standard
One Man's Paradise

Waiting for the Sun II

Another day…

I am amazed how folks have found ways during this pandemic to further their passions. I have enjoyed remote music sessions shared through the internet. In that spirit I reworked some earlier images, which I am sharing in the coming days.

Here is “Waiting for the Sun”.

Can I recommend Gnossienne No 1 by Erik Satie to go with that?


“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

Lewis Carroll
Standard