ASK AN ALASKAN - THE BIG IGLOO QUESTION

Hi Diane and Heidi ~

Thanks for writing!

Ahhh, yes. The big igloo question. Happy to answer, because it was bound to show up sooner or later. Not that it makes it a bad question, mind you. Just a common one.

How much I would love to say yes to this. You have absolutely no idea. I just find irresistible the look in people's eyes Outside* when I tell them that yes, indeed we do all live in igloos. Big igloos. Huge igloos. Massive, grandeurous , luxurious, triple-decker, four-car-garage igloos. (I mean four-dog-sled-garage igloos.) With indoor plumbing.

Pull off saying this with a straight face and you’ve never seen a jaw drop so fast. Ahhh, whatta buzz. Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Come to pappa.

Unfortunately, doing that here would make me a big fat liar. And I’m not one to front, yo.

The truth of the matter is that nobody EVER lived in igloos. Think of them as, well, a tent. Sure, we put up tents. Use them. Sleep in them. But live in them? Nope. The same is true with igloos. The original Alaskans used igloos as temporary shelters when out on long trips, or as emergency shelters if they were caught in bad weather. Let’s face it... who wants to put a bunch of time and effort into a livable structure that’s just going to melt when the mercury rises above 32 degrees?

And it should be noted that igloos are still used today in the same fashion. Outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers are well-trained in the ways of making igloos... and they still save lives. Also interesting is that their design and construction has been practically unchanged. As far as cold-weather survival goes, the igloo is a centuries-perfected method that has saved many a life and spawned countless wonderful myths and questions.

Wonderful questions like yours. Thanks for writing.

* Outside: What we Alaskans call everywhere else that isn't Alaska. See. I told you we were a proud bunch. Alaska is the World, everywhere else is just "Outside". Learned another little Alaskan tidbit there, didn't cha? And yes, it has to be capitalized. Plus we call the rest of the United States "The Lower 48".

Sorry, Hawaii.

I actually feel really bad about that one, as Hawaii is our brother in suffering. Just look at any television commercial advertising a sale. Read the small print. “Void in Alaska and Hawaii”.

When will they learn to love? When will they ever learn...