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Impressions of the Tundra
Although I live in the New Mexican High Desert, I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for the landscape called The Alaskan Tundra. There is a starkness to this countryside that expresses a long, deep, secret past – one that humans have had a hard time understanding.
Even in the high deserts of New Mexico we have trees. Scraggly pinons and junipers, but identifiable trees with trunks and limbs and needles. So I really wasn’t expecting a landscape without trees of any kind. But that’s what many parts of Alaska presented. And yet, Tundra, in the summer-time, is a beautiful green often splashed with patches of colorful wildflowers. The surface is frequently sort of spongy and covered in a thick thatch of lichen, moss, and herbs, but underneath that, at a depth of just a couple of feet, is a layer of permafrost that, in some places, can extend as deep as a thousand feet.
Random pages from The Alaskan Tundra and Brooks Range