The darkness has come back to our village.......
And no it's not metaphorical darkness, it's actually darkness. The long endless sunlit days are gone, and night time has reclaimed her willow spiked crown.
It's a shock to the psyche, more so than the change from dark to light in the spring. In many many ways this is my favorite time of the year though. The caribou are fat and proud, the berries have grown plump and sweet, the mountains exchange green clothing for red and yellow, and the stories...the stories also ripen and sweeten and become beautiful things to share.
The darkness brings with it many things, one of them being tarnished fears. Old fears brought back out to be polished and handled. The bears become fat and brave, and their eyes glow blue in the night as they stalk your camp. But we fend them off with the howl of dogs and the crack of rifles. Other things also roam in the darkness, beings of wood and flesh and spirit. And we fend these off by telling their stories.
My favorites are the stories of the Imanauraq, or the Inuk as they call them here. Small people that live in caves or underground and set deadfall traps. They see the rebirth of the night as we see the coming of the sun, a chance to roam and go unseen and walk among us. The stories range in the hundreds if not thousands, and are as recent as last year. They run after your sled in silence, nothing but a bulky darkness, trip you in bushes with quick fingers, or even set small cooking fires high up in places no human can reach or would go.
Other creatures include tall pale willowy beings filled with curiosity, lost spirits, bouncing lights that lead you into danger, river beings, "bigfoot", and a handful of others that appear after the night has returned. The stories are like tiny gems, passed around a fire to be shared and admired.
Yes this is my favorite season of the year!