Arktikos III: A Musk Ox of My Own

Two weeks have passed since my last Arktikos blog. If you think I’ve spent the last two weeks plotting/strategizing/researching poaching laws of the Arctic nations re: the procurement of baby musk oxen…ho boy, are you wrong. It’s not a good idea to jack a wild animal from its natural habitat. Even the super cute ones with irrepressibly soft underbellies that could be named “Snowbeam” and sequestered in a tricked-out, snow-filled, rent-by-the-month, walk-in freezer in the southwestern United States. Even them.

First of all: it’s really hard to get at the calves because the adults form an impenetrable phalanx around them when under threat. Bounty hunters hired by zoos used to hunt baby musk oxen from helicopter, mowing down entire herds to gain access to the babies. But not me. No siree. I don’t want a pet musk ox THAT bad. Nor can I procure a helicopter.

Second: It’s illegal and wrong. Did you really think I was going to champion kidnapping baby musk oxen from the Arctic weald? Do you even know me?  Some of you probably don’t know me. Or you think you know me, but then when I threatened to kidnap a baby musk ox, you thought I was not the person you thought you knew. But I WOULD NEVER DO THAT!

Unless, maybe, I was really, really out of sorts. Or suffering some sort of mental breakdown, or had determined, somehow, that the ends justified the means. In which case I can only hope you, dear reader, would attempt to understand my mental state/reasoning by talking to me over a hot drink, rather than just assuming I’m the sort of person who kidnaps baby musk oxen without compunction and never read my blog again.

More specifically, those of you who know me would know that I lack the basic determination, resources, and tolerance of cold weather to seriously harbor such a plan. Which brings us to dissuasive reason number three: Logistics.

So if I haven’t been plotting secret ungulate ops in the Arctic, what have I been doing? Well, let’s see–I visited an olive farm in Ojai, California, one of the very few domestic purveyors of olive oil, which is super dumb because the climate of southern California mirrors that of the Mediterranean. Let’s talk about that. Or we could talk about Vietnamese food, since I’m working my way at a snail’s pace through a Vietnamese cookbook.

OR we could finish off the Arktikos Series with three demonstrations of polar bear cunning. You probably all know that polar bears are clever sons-of-bitches. But maybe you lack specific illustrations.

So let us set the scene: A polar bear is hunting ringed seals across the bleak Arctic icescape, which of these three stratagem might the polar bear employ?

1) ICEBERG AMBUSH: Dead-man float in water right up to edge of seal-inhabited floe, disguised as iceberg. (Seal continues basking in the sun, cuz icebergs are common and harmless.) Drift closer and closer and closer and closer…

2) AGLU BOOBYTRAP: Scrape away snow from seal aglu (breathing hole in ice), cover belly in snow, lay across opening. Wait.

3) SNOW WALL STAKE OUT: Mold snow wall with paws adjacent to seal birthing lair and lay in wait. Look like a mound of snow. Just wait.

Finally,  if that’s not enough: Regard this stencil by my all-time favorite Inuit artist, Mabel Nigiyok. Here we see a bear has managed to chew his way through an Eskimo net. She has conned some little prawns into holding up the net, and is just skipping daintily over the ocean floor. Those bubbles from the Eskimo’s mouth mean, “What the fuck?!”

Polar bears are too smart for us. Musk oxen are too cute and unattainable for us. Who are we to screw around in the Arctic? That is my final conclusion of the Arktikos Series. Not so much a conclusion as a question: Who are we? And who do we think we are?

Who do I think I am? Just a girl who will never have a musk ox for a pet. Or outwit a polar bear. Or cook like the Vietnamese.

Yet, I retain my self-esteem.

Enough of Arktikos. Let us return to the more southerly latitudes. Where you, and I, and we reside, utterly content…far, far, from the siren song of the poles.


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