Lucus and I recently had the opportunity to travel to the village of Elim.
Located on the northwest shore of Norton Bay on the Seward Peninsula, Elim is an Inupiat Eskimo village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. They were the raffle winners of KNOM Morning Show’s first ever Winter Toy Advisory, a contest with a pretty simple concept: shower/snow/blizzard a village within our listening range with toys and books. We’ve all been young before. It’s winter and kids need to stay entertained!
This project did not happen over night. Gathering enough toys & donations, playing phone tag, making lists, checking numbers.
Between KNOM’s Christmas creative writing contest and this toy drive, I learned two things: (1) patience, and (2) collaboration (Jenna, thank you for existing). It would’ve been impossible to do it alone. Thank you all for your donations and your help.
By the time I finished through what my supervisor Kelly referred to as a lot of “elf work”, I was pretty burnt out.
Cue Jet engine.
So I go to Elim. Recovering from the flu and very busy last few months, I got to Elim and something magical happened.
In Elim I saw trees. Lots of them. As an avid tree climber and tree hugger, I cannot begin to say what this meant to me. Trees don’t grow in Nome due to the permafrost and I hadn’t seen trees in almost six months, so for almost an hour I walked around Elim and took pictures of trees. The sun was out, the winds were calm. Temperatures were in the 20s (which is the Alaskan equivalent to 70 degree weather on the east coast). By the end of the day, I was sappy and weirdly emotional.
In a village with a little over 300 people, word got around fast that I was in town. During my photo walk, I met a gentleman- a village elder- who offered to show me around town. He gave me a ride in the back of his snow machine and up the mountain we went. that was my first snow machine ride.
Elim means a place of healing, he said. That’s what this place is. He told me about fishing in the village, about snow machine races, and other bits of Elim history. I asked him about the school. I asked him about the ice breaking.
I am a sucker for anything history-related, and trees, so you can imagine what a great time I had.
Elim means a place of healing. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet during village travels. The kindess we received from the school principal, the teachers, kids, people walking down the street, everyone. This kind of openness always surprises me. It’s one of the best things about living in this corner of the world, and something you don’t forget.