Monday, May 6, 2013

life in the goldfish bowl

carrying a bag of chips, pretending this is my ride

The sun's been coming up at 3:30AM these days. It's pretty early. And it's not like it's really ever getting dark either. Night time has been replaced by a permanent daylight, as though the world is stuck in that time where the sun has just gone down or is just about to come up.  

permanent twilight: Cambridge Bay at midnight

As you can imagine, it makes it a little be difficult to sleep. With the sun rising so early, your body feels like it should be waking up at 4AM. We've got these blackout curtains that keep out most of the sunlight, but you'd be amazed at how the smallest crack of sunlight shining through will keep you awake at night. For now, this is the solution that we've worked out:

maybe not the classiest solution, but it works.

It means we end up waking up in total darkness. This can be pretty disorienting in the opposite way, so right now we're working on training a monkey robot to come in and open the cutains at 7AM.

With the gloriously long days of sunshine, the weather has gotten warmer - at min, and the kids have all been playing outside, in the most uniquely Arctic way possible.  Little boys pushing their BMX bicycles through the snow-covered ice roads.  Kids playing street hockey on the streets outside - on ice skates. Children riding their sleds down the hill - a hill that happens to also be a road. Because the roads are completely covered in ice here, they also make for excellent toboggan hills for the kids, who seem to have no fear for the drivers backing their trucks out of the driveway. Come to think of it, the kids like to play in traffic a lot. They are completely oblivious to the oncoming trucks and snowmobiles. The world is their playground, dammit.

We've been slowly getting used to the other quirky aspects of living in the Arctic. Have I told you about the hair drier yet? As you know, one of my first adventures in the Arctic was having to use a hair dryer on my colleague's front door lock to unfreeze the damn thing enough for my key to fit in.  For some reason probably related to the weather changes, this has become a regular part of our life now for our own house, and we often have to leave a hair drier outside on the porch whenever we go out.

classic Nunavut front porch tools

We're also becoming better at grocery shopping in the North. As I've mentioned before, I am constantly surprised by the food items that do make it all the way here. Like eggs. Eggs aren't particularly exotic, but if you think of the long trip that has to be taken to bring fragile, delicate eggs over several planes to get here, it's pretty amazing to realize I can eat eggs here.  Even if everything isn't available all the time, we've learned to enjoy the stuff that we do get as a treat. The produce available at the store guides what our menu for the day will be. When the store has beets, we make borscht. When the store has zucchinis, Rob makes hobak-jeon, Korean zucchini pancakes. Sometimes the store even has bok choy, and then Casa Glob has a Chinese food night.  

and then sometimes, the grocery store looks like this.

These are the things that make life in Cambridge Bay the unique experience it is. Sometimes it feels a bit like living inside a goldfish bowl, or maybe that scene from the Matrix movies when Neo is stuck at that subway station to nowhere. But there's a lot going on inside that goldfish bowl, and I'm slowly getting used to the typical sights of the town, the little ladies riding ATVS with babies strapped to their backs, the giant ravens circling above my head (I am just waiting for them to develop the evolutionary ability to take me down), hunting culture. This weekend, we played poker at a house that was the site of a triple murder five years ago, followed an outdoor picnic in -30°C weather, finished with a dance party in a beautiful house that was equipped with a sound system, smoke machines, and midnight sun. We're getting used to the peculiarities of the community, but it's never dull. 

hunter culture

hunter culture: I love this ad selling a harpoon set

little lady with a baby in her hood, filling up her ATV

giant, Hitchcock-style ravens, ready to eat my face as soon as they figure out how to

Canadian North