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April 2014, vol 10, no 1

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Doris Lynch

Watching the Sea Change

Kivalina, Alaska

Finally a chance to live by the sea–within mere yards of it. No matter that the day we arrive, September 30th, the high temperature reaches only 25 degrees, wind chill hovers in the teens, and the roiling Chukchi is so cold that beach-bathing will never be possible.

day moon
hiking the black pebble beach
ringing of stones

Each day we watch the Chukchi cede more of its water to ice. During the first weeks of December, frigid air transforms it from a wave-swashed sea into a black, uneven surface edged here and there with toothy icicles. Frazil, shuga, nilas, brash, grease–so many names for all the types of ice. Some days strong gales made the current swirl faster, destroying the previous day’s pancake by churning and dissolving it inside great whirlpools. One day during early January's few hours of twilight, the sea, and even the deep channel connecting it to the lagoon become totally still, totally solid.

on the near island
muskoxen suddenly alert
to danger

pressure ridges
rise over ice statuary
lone raven caws