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Posts Tagged ‘Orion’

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

With the winter snow machines came out making land travel less
constricting. A trip to White Mountain across the frozen bay or over the hilly snow covered tundra to Koyuk was now possible. A couple of brothers, grown men, who I had only heard about and hadn’t seen all summer and fall, holed up in their homes, were now out and about. These two Golovin residents, born and raised, whom I had never seen in my up to then 5-6 month residency, came into the store to buy gas for their snow machines. Their names were, strangely enough, Unsky and Gooksy and were the elusive brothers of outgoing flamboyant Jimmy. As small framed Jimmy’s personality could be pesky, his brother’s larger stature and shy and indifferent personalities could be somewhat frightening. Like Jimmy, they drank a lot. So I heard.

When they came into the store for the first time, I figured these two
had to be the brothers I’d only heard about. Their non-conversational
demeanor made me nervous and when they did finally speak I could barely
hear what they were wanting. They asked for their jerry jugs to be
filled with gas and a can of oil mixed in. I had to ask the one talking
to please repeat a couple of times. He would barely look at me and I
didn’t want to upset him by asking him to repeat several times. I
eventually understood what he needed but succomed to my nervousness and
blurted out, “You’re Jimmy’s brothers? Unsky and Gunksky? Oonsky and
Gooksy?” Fortunately they laughed at my slaughtering of their names and
the tension between us broke. I would see the brothers only one other
time during my stay in Golovin.

Snow cover and more freedom of movement also meant a realigning of
one’s bearings. The snow cover and frozen bay gave the landscape an
all-over evenness. Rising and falling hills, sharp dark rock formations,
coastlines and water were now blended into a white softening of the
landscape and the occasional disappearance of a horizon. One winter
visit from M.O., home from school, he suddenly told me to follow him. It
was night. He straddled the driver’s seat of a snow machine and told me
to get on. From home he drove far out onto the frozen bay then stopped.
We got off the machine and looking back from where we had come I was
surprised to see that the few small lights I expected to see from
Golovin had disappeared. We had only the full moon illuminating the blue
night snow and a sky with more stars than I’d ever seen before.

He explained that the ice/sea sat above the village which is why we
could not see it’s lights. He showed me the stars and pointed out the Orion constellation and the three stars that make up
his belt. In the belt was a star that appeared to twinkle red and
green. In the arctic night it was easy to see.  He explained that
if ever I was lost “out here” that I need to head in the direction of
that star. I couldn’t imagine my ever being “out there” by myself but I
was grateful for his taking the time to teach me an important survival
skill. He seemed quite serious and this trip was not a joy ride. We went
back home.

As it turned out, I would, weeks later, find myself in a situation
where I needed to know how to get back to Golovin from the middle of the
frozen bay one night in zero degree temps.

(to be continued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights reserved

The sea beginning its freeze

Frozen Bering Sea

Frozen Bering Sea


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