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.

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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.

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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.


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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
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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
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Life

Waiting for the Sun

Standing at the edge of the boreal forest. A group of spruce and poplars lined up covered thickly with frost and snow. Waiting for the sun to return.


This is the strangest life

I have ever known.

The Doors

That’s how I feel these days. After a year of hiding behind a mask, being trapped inside it is time for life to return. Life as we know it, only better. There are silver linings on the horizon, light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s not quite there, yet.

Til next time.

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Life

Your Table Is Ready

Some of us haven’t heard that sentence in a while. State, county, or city mandates had prohibited indoor service at restaurants at times during the pandemic.


Winter Patio

I consider not being able to dine in a minor inconvenience. Others view this is an unconstitutional deprivation of their human rights. Thus, the pandemic has deepened the rift in our society. How do you live with these absurdities of our times?

Here is some advice from Albert Camus, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44.

Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience:

it should not become a dead end.

Albert Camus

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Note to self

Welcome 2021?

Good riddance 2020, out with the old, in with the new, or is it? I saw one cartoon that showed a couple getting comfy in front of their telly: “Ready for Season 2 of the Grand Pandemic…”

Before the pandemic I would not have considered myself one of the lucky ones, being holed up in one place, not being able to travel, not visiting family and friends. But that’s what it has come to. Escaping the virus until the vaccine puts an end to this remarkable incision, since we are not capable of kicking it otherwise. That’s the motto.

Bison, Yellowstone

I am not looking forward to another year of restrictions. Do you? Instead of looking forward maybe I should keep looking backwards, into the past. Displace the uncomfortable future with pleasant memories. There is something to be said about reminding ourselves about better days. Today, I came across this bison stumping through belly-high snow in Yellowstone National Park, where it can get bitter cold in the winter. They put their head down into the snow in search of some dry grass in order to survive until next spring, when life becomes vibrant and carefree. Maybe we are in such a cycle, where all we can do is put our head down and plow ahead until life as we knew it returns.


“And now we welcome the New Year,

full of things that have never been”

Rainer Maria Rilke


May it be a happy and healthy one.

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Conservation

Arctic Dreams

Brooks Range, Alaska

Barry Lopez died today. A voice of sanity goes silent, only to live on in his books. His words are like artful brush strokes painting stories of a threatened world.


Because mankind can circumvent evolutionary law, it is incumbent upon him, say evolutionary biologists to develop another law to abide by if he wishes to survive, to not outstrip his food base. He must learn restraint. He must derive some other, wiser way of behaving toward the land.

Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez used the pen to battle the destruction of our fragile world. Time will tell whether the Arctic will remain a place visited, inhabited and cherished by few or another industrial stumping ground in our last ditch effort to extract minerals and fossil fuel from it.

John River, Alaska

In 2020 the Ambler Road and area 1002 have made significant strides forward and we may soon see heavy machinery rumble through pristine interior areas and coastal planes of Alaska. All in the name of a short-lived economic boost. Currently, there are no roads into these areas. Natives have used these lands for thousands of years to sustain their existence. To describe the stark beauty of these places requires a Barry Lopez.


“Over the years, one comes to measure a place, too, not just for the beauty it may give, the balminess of its breezes, the insouciance and relaxation it encourages, the sublime pleasures it offers, but for what it teaches. The way in which it alters our perception of the human. It is not so much that you want to return to indifferent or difficult places, but that you want to not forget.”

Barry Lopez

Rest in Peace.

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Life

Season’s Greetings

Wishing you all healthy holidays.

This year has been a mess, thank you very much. “2020” had such a good ring to it…

They say we should count our blessings. Yes, there were things to be grateful for.

I was fortunate enough to spend many days in the woods. The only way to keep my sanity.

Now winter is upon us. On a good day the sun will paint a mesmerizing picture of the boreal forest.

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