Saturday, March 7, 2009

Arctic Unreality

Here's a first for me, a post with a link, it's actually from a blog I read frequently in my web list from the Arctic Circle. She's a single mother living in Kotzebue in rural Alaska, a place about as appealing to me as the fire pits of Hell (my future address I'm sure), but which nevertheless I find fascinating for the very perverse reason that I'd rather swim with piranhas in the tropics than eat seal meat and watch snow falling in the Arctic. If you follow this blog you'll find that from time to time they eat foods that seem rather, um, robust for suburban America, and are never likely to show up in your local Piggly Wiggly. This below is a tiny suburb of Kotzebue accessible by plane or snowmobile ( or husky sled I'm sure), called Kivalina eking out an existence on a barrier island, not in Florida, but Alaska. The white stuff I am reliably informed is snow and frozen ocean:
The blog is mostly a record of the surprisingly mundane doings of ordinary family life in an extraordinary place but every now and again it breaks out and talks about the aspects of life that are truly odd about life so far north, in this instance a trip by bush plane to the outer villages for purposes not revealed in the story. It seems Kotzebue, a place that resembles Big Pine Key under a snowdrift, is actually the metropolis, and there are people still living in wood cabins the villages dotting the back country. One can hardly imagine it, because I am after all a little miffed that its been dropping to 60 degrees (15C) at night since time immemorial it seems like in the Keys; up there its minus something horrible with wind chill and horizontal snowflakes. In Alaska they take jaunts in small planes in snowstorms, and they do it with insouciance. Here's the link for a view into a living refrigerator:
Aside from the arctic barrier island I noticed modern homes built on stilts, not high enough to park under, so their vehicles, left outside, turn into wedding cakes in winter which makes me wonder how little they pay for their cars and snowmobiles if they leave them outdoors to freeze. Quite aside from the pain of defrosting them and getting into them and making them go when needed. I have read that the ground in Alaska is made of frozen dirt called permafrost and if you heat it up it melts and things on top of it like houses and roads sink into the mire, so I'm guessing that's why they have houses on stilts, and probably not because of hurricanes. However I'd rather face a hurricane than endless blowing snow quite frankly. I'm hoping it hits 80 degrees today (27C) because I'm tired of being cold, even at my modest level.

Whitmarsh Lane

If you happened to be laboring up Angela Street to the top of the hill you might see the pink sign to Courtney's Place, pointing down Whitmarsh Lane (indistinct on the right hand side of this picture):
If you gave up your assault on the summit of Solares Hill (16ft/5meters) you could dump your oxygen tanks in a cache here and look down the one block length of Whitmarsh to Petronia Street on the flat lands of Key West in the distance:
The delightful wavy roof lines of successive Conch cottage add-ons might tempt you down the lane......or the extraordinary evidence of life lived comfortably outdoors:I also rather liked this al fresco garage which made modest little Whitmarsh look quite like the haunted wood:Actually the street was haunted when Mr Kitty escaped from this man's home. He found himself in the undignified position of grovelling on the floor in front of a complete stranger hunting for his escaped pussy:All's well that end's well and Mr Kitty was recovered intact by a man who managed somehow to navigate is way safely home with cat in tow despite there being strong evidence that drink had been taken. Cat and man slipped through the gate and I was left to ponder the value of phone booths as home decorative motifs:I found a more conventional decoration upstairs:By now I was about half way and looking back the view towards Solares Hill looked like this:While the outdoor lifestyle was spilling comfortably out onto the side of the lane:It's hard to be definitive about this but Whitmarsh Lane seemed a very comfortable little neighborhood, and the funny thing for me is that I had hardly given it a second thought recently but a police officer one night called out a routine check of the street, so naturally that prompted me to think of stopping by with the camera. Courtney's Place it turns out is quite flash:They have their own extended golf cart yellow "cab"and enough off street parking for a gaggle of Harleys. And a short hop from there brings one to Petronia Street:I quite liked Whitmarsh Lane...And just to put the cherry on top it has no street signs at either end:And even though this has nothing to do with anything it might be worth noting that Summer Time starts tomorrow morning in the US, a month ahead of much of the rest of the world including Cuba. So if like me, you listen to Radio Reloj (950am) bear in mind the time checks will be out by one hour.