A Hunker Down Winter

Stars of Bethel, photo by Greg Lincoln on Nov. 12th, 2015.

by Brad Cole

For months now in Tuluksak everyone has been staying home so much. I live alone in a small house listening to the radio, reading books of history, writing and doing some art to pass the time.

Often just to breathe fresh air and stay sort of sane I will walk out the front door and stand looking for a minute at the snow covered trees and the dogs.

At night I gear-up and walk out into the forest.

Every evening I answer the call of the great outdoors with a hike on an old familiar trail. Moose become nothing more than a dark spot disappearing into the trees. A good dog will get close to the animal and bark, so you know where to look.

If the sky is open I will walk out a couple of miles from the village to a large frozen pond and stand there looking at the stars with a small telescope. I have been stargazing for so many years, I feel they have become a part of me. There is the huge crater Tycho on the bottom of the moon, two or three small moons can be seen circling Jupiter, the colorful Orion Nebula (where stars are born) in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter), the seven sisters (a star cluster) and a reddish Mars that has been the most obvious planet lately in the night sky.

The Andromeda galaxy (harder to find) looks like a loosely packed snowball floating in deep space. Its’ spiraling arms are on-course to collide with our galaxy, the Milky Way, in a billion years from now.

While walking home on a winter trail at night I sometimes feel the presence of a strange soft light, which I have never been able to understand. It floats close behind or above me for a minute and then disappears. It only happens in the forest at night.

Upon my return the bright streetlights of the village destroy my natural night-vision, as I step off the trail and on to a main road. The harsh change in lighting makes me feel like I’m living in two different worlds – the wilderness and the village and I love them both. And if anyone can bring anything of value to our strong but storm tossed people let it be love.

Once at home slowly I will crawl out of my snow-covered gear and relax on a cozy couch preparing for another sleep filled night. The stars will continue their fabled journey across the distant heavens without me. However, I know Orion will softly seed my spiraling dreams with the whispers of a distant star.

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