venting one from being able to heat with
it.” There is a humor section, too, and this
is one of its jokes: “You’re in Alaska if you
pick your nose and pull out an ice cube!”
But seriously, much of Alaska was warmer
last winter than Chicago. Hey, Lower 48:
they want their Polar Vortex back! The glaciers are retreating. The tundra has grown
boggy. There’s not enough snow for dog
sledding or skiing.
The plane To homer was even smaller
than the plane north.
How small? Our pilot sat backward in
his seat as we boarded, and wore a ball cap
turned around on his head. “Hi,” he said.
“My name’s Brian!” He noted that the company had a smaller plane, but you had to
bend over double to get to your seat.
Our flight attendant told us, “Every
seat is a window seat.”
She climbed aboard, gave us all the
thumbs-up, crawled into the copilot’s seat,
and away we went. Bri called out, “Awe-
some!” at some point during the flight.
Landing in Homer, looking out the
windshield, it seemed like we were nose-diving. Oddly, it was a happy feeling. We
were badasses now.
Later, sitting in another air lounge, looking at more mountains—did I mention
the mountains? Did I mention that being
in Alaska is like seeing the Rockies with another set of Rockies piled on top of them?
Anyway, I overheard some Yupik folks who
were happy that somebody in their town
got a truck. “That’s a red truck,” the man
said. The women smiled. “Big truck!” he
called out. They all started to laugh.
Leaving Alaska, on our way to catch the
flight to Florida (don’t ask), we drove under
a light stanchion. A bald eagle stood athwart
the arm. It raised its wings and held them
open, as if in benediction, as we passed by
to rejoin the rest of the world. A
Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of many
books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
dexTer iS having Trouble with
his shoulder. He lies on a table, his belly
placed on a clean white towel, while Claire
McManus, a specialist working with Dex-
ter’s primary care-giver, Dr. Charlie Innis,
palpates his limbs, pressing her fingers
gently along his skin to locate the bones
and muscles underneath. The lights in
the room are turned down to relax the pa-
tient, and McManus pulls a small needle,
the width of a human hair, from its sterile
package. Carefully, she taps one into Dex-
ter. A dozen more will be placed into his
head and limbs.
“Unfortunately, we can’t get to his
back,” McManus says.
Dexter’s shell makes that impossible.
Claire McManus is an acupunctur-ist, and today she is working at the New
England Aquarium’s rescue and rehabilitation center, where Dr. Innis is the
aquarium’s head of veterinary medicine
and a specialist on sea turtles. Innis
doesn’t believe that Dexter’s occasional
movements are signs that the needles
cause him any pain. “Even if you’re not
[performing acupuncture],” he says,
“they’re as active as he’s being now. They
definitely don’t withdraw their flipper
Shit Happens Painting by Sage Vaughn