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A Different Kind of Ocean

When I hear “ocean” I imagine sun, heat, waves crashing, or rolling, or moving. Not silence. And not ice.

But last year, while applying to KNOM, I realized in Nome, I would see the ocean freeze. And I of the Nevada desert, of summer days at a freshwater lake, visits to California beaches and Massachusetts shores, was baffled. Excited. Intrigued.

And? AND?? It’s magnificent.

Part of me doesn’t want to show you, so you prospective applicants will come see it yourself with fresh eyes. But for others who will never be lucky enough to brave a year in subarctic zones– look below for a photo timeline of the Bering Sea’s change.

In August, the ocean moved, with surf, rolling waves, and sea foam.

August

Early November. The temperatures had dropped and the ice begun to form, slowly, beyond the shoreline. Slushy waves too heavy to crest, like they were suffering, weary, exhausted.

Early November

Late November. Flying over the Bering Sea thousands of feet above, the ice forming and dark sea showing through.

Ice

And in December: white on white. A field of snow, an extension of the land. Gorgeous photo by Daynee Rosales.

The sun breaks over the Bering Sea as clouds cover the sky

The waves have frozen, my friends, as they have every year for millenia. Seeing the sheet of ice makes you feel very small and stunning. The earth, the water, the ocean changes with no regard for who you are or what you do, but you are a part of it.

And last weekend, fellow volunteer Josh and I walked on the ice. It was 11 below. Parkas, long underwear, wool hats and face masks kept our bodies warm. We were very cautious when we stepped off the snowy sands and onto the frozen sheet. A dusting of snow, fine, powdery snow, snow you blow on and it puffs away, covered the thick slabs of ice. There was no creaking, no groaning. Simply water molecules in a solid state. The cold burned our cheeks red and numbed our faces like a shot of novacaine but we stayed for a while, standing on the frozen sea.

 

1 Comment

  1. Laurie on December 18, 2012 at 9:16 am

    What a beautiful story.