Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Under the wings of the raven.

If I understood Richard, our guide on the trip out to Teller, the local Native Americans believed that the Raven had special significance in their relationship with the land, the animals and eachother. Symbolically, everything came together 'under the wings of the Raven'. Lovely concept, and I'd like to think that Berrimilla and her crew will be able to relate to the places we go to from here as if we too are under the wings of the Raven, but I think that might be a cultural hijack and so I'm just going to try to respect the Raven and hope that it looks after us too.

Raining and muddy here this morning, and cold, just like Dutch Harbour. Great contrast to the last few days of heat and sunshine – the sea now a  rolling, surging brown and the southerly wind pushing it up the beach and raising the water level in the harbour by at least half a metre.

We had an absorbing trip out to Teller, the little village where Amundsen, Nobile and Ellsworth landed the airship Norge in 1926 in a storm. They were trying to reach Nome. The airship was destroyed and I assume that the crew eventually followed more or less our route to and from Nome by dogsled. But the imagination quivers a bit at the thought of what the local natives must have thought when a 70 metre airship arrived above them…

I have sent Speedy photos from the trip – lovely delicate tundra wildflowers, melting permafrost, musk ox, arctic terns, a bit of scenery. We met Norbert, a local friend of Richard's, who has been blind for 40+ years since getting measles as a child. If you can find "Burdens greater than mine" by Hank Williams Snr, Norbert is the blind man and the other two were his friends.

 I feel as if I have just seen the tip of the lure – this is an amazing place and there's so much that is fascinating and related in so many ways to Australia and things that happened and still happen there – and Cook – I intend to re-read his journals when we eventually get home to try to observe again what we have seen ourselves but through his eyes.

 And from the philosophical to the totally ridiculous – there's a tv in my room and I was idly watching last night and doing other things and I saw scenes shot in Manly (a Sydney suburb close to the entrance to the Harbour) – it was an episode of, I think, Jag or JAG – a bunch of US naval people hunking around in stereotypical Oz. Not my gig but stirred the homesickness strings just a bit. The Supreme Court of NSW was set in St Patrick's Seminary on the hillside to the south of the beach. Hollywood license. Some of the rest of it was cringemaking – are we really seen like that?

 Mjc, the microvave towers long disused – were part of the communications system for the DEW line.