The North Pole Discovered
Pat Chapin

When I first saw them couple of weeks back, I thought they were two Manitou, you know, those monsters that Eskimeaux say come in snowstorms. It wasn't a real bad storm, but the wind was up, whipping along the ground so that the snow felt like little stinging ice pellets. Hard to see, not that there's much to look at across ice fields.

Anyway, I was prospecting, so to speak, as the seal have been slow and fishing hasn't been all that great either if you want to know, and I'm kind of head down, squinching my eyes against the snow, when I stumble across tracks of a kind I've never seen before, still fresh, not even half filled with snow.

Didn't resemble any foot print I've seen before, sort of fish shaped, with scale patterns. Like anyone would, I raised my head to see where they led (only a stranger or someone with a death wish would invade my turf and hunting grounds anyway), and I see these two sports, practically bent double, stumbling along with a sled, pulled behind 'em, maybe half a mile ahead of me. They were humans, but not Eskimeaux. The fish things were on their feet.

I'm not stupid, I know there are no such things as Manitou, but I didn't want these dudes to see me right away, so I scuttled around some drifts and ranged ahead so I could look at them heads-up and coming at me. Weirdest thing you ever saw -- a white one and a black one, wearing Eskimeaux gear, but with no dogs. The wind blew me their voices, but it was that gibberish that two-legs speak, you can't make heads nor tails of it.

I thought about bashing them--after all, they were on my turf and I have a rep to uphold, but decided they must be crazy, and figured the weather would do 'em anyway, and I could find 'em later. So I went back to looking for the perfect seal.

Who knew? I ran into a frigate bird just yesterday, and he says there's something on my turf called a Pole, and everyone's looking for it, and racing to find it. I've lived here all my life, and I can tell you exactly what's on every inch of my territory, and there's nothing about it changes unless I change it, or it gets snowed on. There's not a glacier stump or an ice-flower I don't know about. I never heard of this Pole thing, and the bird didn't know what it was either.

Beats the heck out of me, I figured they were just snacks in the making. . .what in blazes is a Pole?


First published: February, 2004