When it rains it doesn’t really pour, at least not so far even though the weather bureau predicts it with 90% certainty. It’s been windy and cold and  gray though, and with the change in the weather come so many– My daughter JJ is leaving Unalaska (so it’s a good thing we took the trip) to be a principal at an elementary school in Juneau. We are so happy she will be closer, and of course very proud, but I also love the Aleutians now thanks to her, and so will have to return even though she and her husband won’t be there. I’m so grateful they introduced me to that different world right here in Alaska, which I had assumed was barren and rough. Even being so “close” ( a relative term, it’s 1500 miles or so from here) I didn’t understand what beauty was out there– in land and sea scapes and in people.

I have been thinking about perception and reality when it comes to the northern polar regions lately– I heard a congressman or senator say on the radio the other day that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a frozen wasteland that no humans would ever visit anyway, so we might as well take all the oil and minerals out of it that we can-

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Last September I floated through ANWR– we began not far from Arctic Village and went North towards the Beaufort Sea. The river was gin clear and full of grayling and char– you wouldn’t believe the abundance of resources ( to use the congressman’s term)–  the plants and the beauty of the hills, and all the ancient caribou migration trails, bears, golden eagles–  the solitude and the silence, and the miles and miles of wilderness. I’m not speaking of bankable resources–  but the kind money can’t buy, or fix or replace once they are destroyed. The kind the UN report says we must protect because we are running out of places like this and our survival depends on them.

Here’s something else to think about when you hear from Washington that the arctic is nothing but a big pile of ice and snow with oil and minerals underneath it waiting to be drilled or dug up. Consider the source. When JJ was a little girl she used to say that she wanted to be the president’s lawyer when she grew up. We all agreed she’d be great at that, but she chose children and education instead, and that’s a wonderful thing for many reasons, not the least of which is- as Chip said the other night when we were watching the news– if she hadn’t,  “Instead of moving to Juneau to be a principal there, she’d be going to jail.”