The Melting Plain

The time of great cold is no moreRick Bass

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Peel Watershed

I was up in Beringia on the solstice: no sunrise, no sunset. The days passing in a place so lonely on the map—a place where the trees run out, where the tundra begins, and where, just a little farther north, the Beaufort Sea rests with its bobbing floes and drowning polar bears and luminous bubble-headed belugas and narwhals. The Peel Watershed—a treeless area of mountains and rivers the size of seven Yellowstones—is a place so lonely that to behold it wrenches something out of you. The wrenched thing begins unwinding and unspooling from you and whirls away as if it was never attached in the first place. As if you were never really in possession of it but were merely the most inconsequential vessel for it.

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