Come On Back To The Other Side

Trip Start Jun 18, 2005
Trip End Jan 01, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I got into my window seat, one of the last rows on the little Boeing, and immediately a tiny man sat down beside me. His face was wrinkled and weathered, and, like a 'Night Before Christmas' tale, he was covered in fur from his head to his foot. His coat was fastened tightly all the way to his neck; his parka raised; mittens and knee-high boots covered the rest. In his lap he placed a tall paper grocery sack. "He spoke not a word," as the story goes, and looked neither right nor left.

Shortly after takeoff the flight attendant started the drink cart down the aisle. When she stopped at our row, the little man reached into his sack and pulled out a can of Coke, popped the top (I couldn't see how he did it with those thick mittens on) and proceeded to drink. He did not acknowledge her offer of airline sustenance in any way.

Who was this little man? I guessed that he was Inupiat, and I guessed that he had a daughter or son who lived in Fairbanks and wanted him to visit. I wondered about his life, where he was going, where he had been. Had he ever killed a whale? Did he own a dog?

One thing I knew for sure. He was an Elder, well respected in this northernmost part of the world.

I had been to a very special place. See the pictures as I cross back out of the Circle.
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