Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Freezing Up


Winter seems a little slow to take over southwest Alaska this year. We are about two weeks behind our usual point in the freezing up process. Spring was about that late in leaving, so perhaps it all balances out. The river is solid ice all the way across in front of Bethel, but just barely. No one is walking on it yet.

Shelf ice starts at the edges of the river and grows out until it meets in the center. Open leads and thin ice can exist in the center well in to winter. When people must cross the river before the ice is trustworthy, they do it in pairs dragging a small skiff between them. If the ice breaks, or they come to open water, they hop in the boat and row to better ice. By December the river should be safe to cross with a dog team, and perhaps by snowmachine.

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The sky is beginning to have a more wintry look. Our winter sky has the most amazing variety of shades of blue in it; sometimes even the air looks slightly blue. The sun is not nearly so high in the sky now at midday, and has a watery quality to it that offers little warmth. When the wind is blowing (often!), there is none at all. Daylight approaches us stealthily now around 9 am, and has faded almost completely by 6 pm.

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The migratory birds are all long gone. Ravens are once again the kings of the skies around Bethel, and there are lots of them. They are large birds, quite bigger than crows in the lower 48, and bright, inquisitive, and saucy. They talk a lot, too. Ravens can be quite a nuisance, with their ability to get into things and wreak havoc. They are very entertaining to watch; quite the acrobatic flyers, they do stunts seemingly just for the fun of it, like rollovers. Eagles do them as part of their mating flight, but I’ve never seen eagles do it just for fun, as ravens do.


The thermometer outside my kitchen window read +12 degrees this morning, and warmed up to +20 by late afternoon. Hopefully, we won’t get above freezing again for a while now. Most people here look forward to freeze up; life is a lot cleaner without the mud of a rainy fall. Bethel is much prettier wearing a white dress.

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Photos by The Tundra PA. The river in front of Bethel; boats frozen in at Brown's Slough; sunset from our deck looking southwest; Bethel dumpster.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

I enjoyed looking at your beautiful photos.

Thank you.

MJ

Thursday, November 09, 2006 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

I also love looking at your gorgeous photos.

(Always makes me homesick for AK.)

Hh

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 2:06:00 AM  

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