I do miss my trees, most of all during fall. The season of turning leaves reminds me, every year, that there is no way to freeze a moment of perfection, no ownership of beauty, and all things are passing away. But up here, the warm seasons are all so short that I still have seasonal access to that heartbreaking sensation of fleeting joy. For example, this week it’s fall.
Fall (I can’t get it straight whether it’s aujaq or ukiuksaaq – those words might have more to do with the movement of animals than what the landscape looks like, so I’m just going to call it “fall” for now) seems really busy. The weather is cooling, but it’s not cold, the summer rains are still over and the October gloom hasn’t totally set in yet. So there’s lots of “one last” trips, boating or camping.
Much to the delight of us not-yet-hunters, all the things that grow on the tundra are ready to be harvested now, too. Berry-picking expeditions are the best. The girls and I have been out a couple times, and when we went out last week, I remembered my camera.
This time we mostly found cranberries (above), and a few blueberries (below). They are smaller than their southern counterparts, maxing out at 3-4 mm in diameter, but just as tasty. I made blueberry muffins last week, and this week the cranberries went into our baked oatmeal, which was perfect. There are also crowberries (seedy and a little weird; last year I used them instead of currents in a quiche), cloudberries (which I have yet to find), and bearberries (which it turns out you don’t eat, though evidently they don’t kill you).
And the fall colors? (Excuse me: colours.) They’re all there. You just have to zoom in. There are no trees, but walking over the reds and oranges and purples and yellows makes me feel like I’m walking over the forests of a million fairies.
I’ve had to tweak these pictures significantly – partly because I have no idea what I’m doing with my SLR (still), so my pictures came out all washed out. But also, when you’re out there, so used to rocks and grey, the colors look so much brighter than an objective camera can record.
This was also a first outing for my mushroom bag. I finished it, what… two years ago? Searching for that link shows me it was almost three years ago. Wow. It was the first project in my knitted through Lord of the Rings via the patterns of Susan Pandorf, and it turned out rather skewed since I was not smart enough to felt my swatch. Most of my projects in this series have run into major problems: scarves too long or too short, yarn issues, etc. and the ones that have worked out are mostly too fancy to be practical or I’ve given them away. (Not a bad problem, that last.) It’s made me stop and think a lot more about my projects, take my time, think things through, rather than rushing through every experience so I can consume the next one. Life is like a box of chocolates, not a tube of Pringles. This is one of many experiences in the last several years that has massaged me in the direction of the former approach.
Still, I hung onto that beautiful bag, slightly misshapen though it was, and last week it was just right to carry a camera case and berry containers. I’m so glad that I did. How little did I suspect, when I was blocking this piece, that its first outing would be on arctic tundra? That the little sample bags I knit to go with it would be adopted by the at-the-time baby, who would fill them with dried a’aasaaq flowers and arctic cotton?
Life’s a funny old thing. I am impatient by nature, so I’m glad, in the end, when I’m forced to stop and pick the berries.
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