I just had the most unexpectedly beautiful Friday. After work, I drove out to Teller with an awesome nurse who I work with. They host an annual Cultural Festival, with Eskimo dancing, food and fun stuff, like door prizes where you can win a 55 gallon drum of stove oil to get you through the winter.
It was a gorgeous, crisp Autumn evening with sunshine and clear, cool air. The sun was our guide westward, as we drove on a thin ribbon of road, through the wonder of the tundra, with muskox grazing on the rolling gold, rust and periwinkle hills.
There is a silence and a stillness out in this great Alaska landscape, and in these little villages like Teller.
We went to the school to see Eskimo dancing and singing. It is so beautiful, the haunting melodies, the ardent drums, the steady rhythms, the ancient, the ageless, the stories even though I can’t understand them, but through them you can almost hear voices from the past. The community togetherness, the kuspuks, beadwork, flowing colors, the mukluks and drums all made by hand, from nature).
While driving, deep in conversation about this crazy, amazing life, two ptarmigan suddenly flew across the front of my car, I felt the soft-but-sickening thud and saw a white flash of feathers and body pass over the windshield. Oh no! We decided to turn around and look at it, and mourn the loss of its life. :'( And we found the still-warm ruffled-feather body on the side of the road. It was so beautiful!
I have seen the ptarmigan brown, and I have seen them all white for the winter, but I did not think about how they changed color. It had brown feathers on it’s neck and part of its back, but the rest of it has already changed to pure white.
And is if that wasn’t enough, THEN came the sublime dancing Northern Lights over the black hills, below the Milky Way, beaming up to the stars… The spirits of the sky. And the song and the dance those northern lights were singing across the sky, was as beautiful as the Eskimo song and dance.