Friday, August 12, 2011

"Life in Deering" gets a new face and a new name

I am not exactly sure why I didn't have the foresight to realize we wouldn't live in Deering forever. So now that we have moved from Deering I have to change the name of my blog and redirect things a bit. We have moved to Noorvik. Interestingly Noorvik was settled by people from Deering almost 100 years ago. Though we did not take the historical route to Noorvik via stern wheeler, we made our own pilgrimage to this new village.
The name Noorvik means: a place to move to. Missionaries from Deering sought to alleviate the distractions present in a rowdy mining town by establishing another village up the Kobuk River. The original sight for the village was about 10 miles beyond the current location. Noorvik sits snugly in a generous bend in the river. While Deering has miles of gravel road, Noorvik has miles of navigable water ways.
We are now inside the arctic circle. All that means is that the sun for a period of time in the winter doesn't actually break above the horizon and in the summer there is a small portion where it never dips below it. Noorvik has trees and is actually part of the Boreal Forest of North America. A Deering elder and dear friend mentioned that when she visited Noorvik once the trees made her feel trapped and closed in. Deering gives new meaning to the idea of "big sky"; there is nothing to break the monotony of hills for mile upon mile. To arrest that feeling of being trapped we live on a hill overlooking the river. Our living room window looks out to an expanse of flat river valley that abruptly makes its way into the Baird Mts. (part of the Brooks Range). Sitting on the highest point for miles makes weather watching a sight to behold.
Noorvik boast a population of 634 people according to the last census (fun fact: the 2010 census began in Noorvik, AK). There is more than one street and I am quite sure that I may get lost at some point. There are more students in the school than in the whole village of Deering. I wonder if I will ever know everyone's name in the school let alone the village. When I was lamenting the size of Noorvik, my mom reminded me a place with only 634 people is not that big. I concede that 634 people isn't huge, just bigger than I am used to.
We have had a troop of about 8 little girls who come to visit. They enjoying playing with Eloise's toys in the watermelon pink bedroom. I know that in time I will love them as surely as I love the sweet kids of Deering. This has been a bittersweet time. I have longed for the things that I have grown to love. I miss the bluff, watching water-skipping from the bridge, fishing for salmon at the beginning of their journey up the Inmachuk River, picking blueberries at 14 mile, kids on the playground in front of my house until midnight this time of year, telling those same kids to get off the conexes, walking on the beach, hearing the waves lap against the shore, cutting fish, and on the memories go. There are certain to be new memories to linger over at some later date. Until then we are settling in and looking forward to this new chapter in our "Off the Map" adventure.

1 comment:

  1. It's always a tough go to be somewhere new, when what you really want is to go back to the familiar, the comfortable, the friends you've grown to love. It has been said that it takes about five years to recreate community in a new place, but I think, in Alaska, it happens much faster than that. I love your use of the phrase, "generous bend in the river." I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of this new place.