Presented by Snapped
During the last days of November, the Bering Sea sun rose frigid and pink, casting cold beams of new light across the frozen shoreline.
Two men stood on the beach outside of Nome, binoculars pointed towards the water, watching for seals. They had watched before the sea began to freeze, and when the ice began to creep out over the dark waves, shifting and thickening with each passing day, they watched some more.
Elmer Bekoalok said the ice is still young: The bone-cold northern tides continue to move the massive pieces like a giant, frigid puzzle. But Bekoalok needed meat to eat and blubber to make seal oil to heat his village, so he made his way out onto the shifting frozen sea like his ancestors did for thousands of years before him.
And as the cold sunrise illuminated the new day, he experienced his own kind of renewal.
He had once moved to Anchorage for a while, miles from the frozen Bering Sea beaches where the ice breaks against the shoreline in jagged slabs. Unable to hunt the seals, belugas, birds, moose and caribou like he once did, he said he felt himself falling away from that part of his life. And, when many of his friends took their own lives, he said he too had to fight the idea.
So he went home.
Standing on the sea ice watching for seals by the glowing light of dawn, Bekoalok returned to his roots. It was the place he came from, and the place he returned to when he lost sight of who he was. It was the place he said he reconnected to God in more ways than one.
“It’s a healing process,” he said.