An Arctic Home Supplement: The News from Nunivak Island- Fishin' Meltin' and Killin'
Well its been another quiet day here on Nunivak Island, my island in the Bering Sea. After waiting and waiting for spring to come, the locals here are finally immersed in everything spring has to offer in bush Alaska. The weather changed just as suddenly as the demeanor of many of the townsfolk, drastically and with out warning. After a steady string of below freezing days the fog rolled in and was burned away by the long May sun. Temperatures soared, sunglasses came out of hiding along with the rainboots and the ever popular sport of creative puddle jumping and soft snow navigation.
Down on the Mekoryuk River folks are getting their last rounds of Tom Cod fishing in. The river is a popular hangout for many of the people of the village who seek escape and reprieve from their daily frustrations. Other locals are at home pacing the floor waiting for the birds to arrive. Agnes the secretary at school sits chuckling and flinging hundreds of unlucky bottom feeders from the depths into a scattered pile around a hole in the river. Its an unusual way to socialize to an outsider of the island considering most of the fishing holes are located just outside of earshot from each other and most of the social interaction revolves around silently fishing and yelling remarks back and forth followed by laughter. Patty, another local teacher, was so happy to find solace in the monotonous gutting and slicing of tiny fish that she gladly accepted an extra bucket to clean.
Trevor, a local twenty something, down at the local store bought a bunch of shotgun shells today. Francine the lip pierced check out girl at the store asked him what birds he was going out to hunt and he replied, "Anything that flies above me."
Francine's husband Larry or "Nunivak Shaq," a local pick up basketball hero because of his gargantuan stature , can be scene rocketing up and down the river on his suped up snowmachine chasing and shooting foxes for the five dollar pelt tag that has been enforced lately. With the absence of two white trapper teachers a few years back and the reindeer slaughterhouse up by the airport supplying an endless smorgasbord of animal scraps, the population has gotten out of hand. He shoots about 3 a day and drives out more if possible because, as a new father, he feels its his parental duty to rid the town of the rabies infested mongrels. If he's lucky he'll break even on the gasoline bill now that prices have soared to 7 dollars a gallon at times. He proudly stops by Agnes and Paddy to confirm that the he got the fox he was chasing over the hill.
Here in the land of cold and survival the locals can be found most at peace when they're killing. The most desired and enjoyed activities around our little town usually involve the ending of a life. Its not a sad animals rights issue. Its life here. You kill to eat or to protect the ones you love. Most people can't understand that, but here in Mekoryuk killing is good, as long as it is an animal. Fish, birds, ungulates and ocean mammals better watch out, its spring on the tundra and the guns, hooks, and nets are coming.
Well thats about it for the news here on Nunivak, where the snow is melting, the sun is still up and there is nothing wrong with clubbin a seal pup.