It’s a beautiful snowy day in Nome with the temperature a warm 32 degrees, same as in New York City. Most of the natives think this is way too warm and are worried about the melting and freezing that happens afterwards. “It’s not good Polar bear weather” one of my patients says. What is good polar bear weather? I ask. He replies "the one that causes frostbite on the tip of your nose. The good kind of frostbite!" Maybe the good kind of frostbite is the one where you don’t actually lose the tip of your nose. I walk out layered up with my new set of cleats
to put on the bottom of my boots. You can pull them off and on like a pair of galoshes but they have kept me much more stable recently, and headed for my mandatory, preflight, Covid test. Since I was already layered up and out it made sense for me to trek across town to the local supermarket in order to buy some food for my upcoming village trip. My understanding is that the village store tends to be empty except for soda and crackers. Even though those are vegan options they are probably not the best way for me to keep my energy and focus up. I Picked up any vegetables that were under five dollars a pound and found myself with a yummy treat of wild broccoli sprouts.
I decided to take a cab home from the store and the one shared cab company is directly linked by a bat phone at the exit. Turns out that taking a cab is the best way to truly get to know the people of Nome. My driver is a gold miner from Kodiak Alaska who waits for the summer in order to dredge gold at the bottom of the ocean. He says that he can get up to 40 ounces in a season. I’m not sure how much 40 ounces of gold is worth but he seems pleased. My other ride partner was a young adult man who is from a small fishing village called Saint Michael’s. He was heading to the airport because the people of his village had just caught a whale and his family was sending him some of the whale meat. He was very sad to not be celebrating with his village but so excited to share with me his village's good fortune. It is interesting where I do not feel judge mental of the people who have been hunting in order to subsist for the last 10,000 years. They are wonderful stewards of the land and will use every portion of what they catch and share it with the whole community. Definitely the better option than soda and crackers! Whatever is left over is sent back to the sea as an offering and thanked. As a white vegan who grew up where food was never scarce and easily available it makes perfect sense for me to do everything I can to not exploit the animals and environment in order to save the land for the people that live in harsh conditions and need to survive. My fishing village, Shishmaref, is sinking because of the impact of rapid global warming and I want to make sure that I do everything I can in order to stop it. It’s not fair for me to colonize an already oppressed and colonized people to take on my way of veganism! Although I think I will try to set up some kind of hydroponic farm or container crop farm so that at least they could have a better supply of vegetables and fill up the empty store! Will keep you all posted. As I go you go!