Thursday, January 29, 2009

Glacial Harbor Seals

I have an Alaskan Harbor Seal figurine sitting in front of me, on my window sill. It’s a cute little thing, one of those fairly small aquatic animals which roll over and over to get their fur smoothed out just right. They also lie on their backs to eat and do whatever else harbor seals do when a cruise ship comes by.

It’s made from glacial silt, a very fine sand created when a glacier softly and slowly grinds over rock. When I was on the Tanana River in mid-Alaska, you could see this sand suspended in the water.

Someone local takes the sand and fashions it into these small little amphibs, fairly delicate, and then paints whatever facial features need adding. They are about three inches long, maybe two inches tall at the head.

Mom had two or three of these, I think, and the others may be scattered around; this one is safely here.

She had another, a carving of a harbor seal, much like the local Inuits or Athabascans might make, but on the bottom there is a scraped-off tag that seems to say, ”… en …co.” I’m not sure if that means “Mexico,” or if it’s an indication of a native Inuit or Athabascan product, ending in “…co.”

The first is from Sitka, Alaska; it has primary place here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching those and sea otters can become an addiction!


January 31, 2009 7:25 AM  

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