Ice, Ch. 3

Next morning, (morning for me being around noon since we were just past the winter solstice), I was listening to the local radio heading back to Fairbanks from the Salcha cabin. My truck, by the way, seemed to be running fine.

The temperature had warmed to -30F when I emerged from the cabin, and the ice fog was less intense. I noticed oval footprints near two identical birch planted near my truck. The prints were like moose prints without the cleft. I had never seen such prints before.

I looked under the truck hood and removed a piece of cardboard that I had placed behind the grill to block cold air. There was some evidence that the cardboard had smoldered. I took about an hour to dig the truck out of the ditch and was able to back out of the driveway to the road, and head for the burrito stand situated at the intersection of the gravel road, and the paved road that headed back to town. I plunked down $10 for an enormous bacon and egg breakfast burrito, feeling as always guilty about eating pig, one of my favorite animals. But bacon is also one of my favorite foods. One of my sisters, another animal lover who truly has the courage of her convictions, is vegan. She owns three horses and is loath to have them smell flesh on her breath.

A member of SWAT, (Solid Waste Alaska Taskforce) was describing the legacy waste situation in Alaska villages. After generations of habitation, dating back to territorial status and before, goods from outside Alaska had been finding there way to native villages, where they wore out and accumulated as trash that was never hauled away. Understandable, if transport to and from the villages was by plane, river boat, or dog sled. The term 'legacy waste' suggests old wooden trunks of gold rush vintage, rotting in the snow, filled with granite ware coffee pots, seal skin parkas, and gold nugget jewelry. The reality was more prosaic- mountains of dead trucks, mining equipment, TVs, microwaves, styrofoam packing and plastic of all sorts gathering in ever growing mounds under snow in the winter, and buried under wild vegetation in the summer. The volume of junk might equal the volume of habitation in any given village. Abandoned refrigerators and freezers are a subset of legacy waste, and are termed 'white waste.' The Taskforce spokesperson observed that 'There are a myriad of drums with, you know, who knows what in them . . .' Interesting. Had Bethel's hairy men stumbled upon some drums containing toxins that stripped them of their pelts?

Today was the day I intended to hand in my notice at the Medical Examiner's. I loved photography and was good at it, but circumstance and laziness on my part had resulted in my taking on employment that was unsatisfying. The pay was good, but the creativity that had led me to study photography in the first place was subsumed in the need to record the victims of violent crime in accurate detail. Images of heads exploded by high velocity hollow points, or the tiny bodies of abused children inhabited too many of my off-work hours. Granted, my photographs often became evidence in criminal proceedings that nailed the perpetrators. But now it was time to move on. I needed more time to devote to being a full time witch.

To be continued

© 2017 Moe Dey - 2/22/17


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