Monday, June 30, 2014

goose eggs

This time is goose egg collecting season! With all the birds having flown back for the summer to hang out in the tundra, eggs can be found all over the landscape. 

goose eggs, still stained with dirt.
the brown egg is a regular store-bought chicken egg for comparison purposes

You know, I never took part in the whole Easter egg hunting tradition that North American kids do - my immigrant parents couldn't figure out what bunnies laying eggs had to do with Jesus' resurrection - so I was hoping to go out and collect some eggs myself. It would be like the ultimate Easter egg hunt, except way more epic and hard-core because no human adults dressed up in giant furry bunny costumes hid the eggs in the first place.  Also, if you go too late in the season you might end up finding a little gosling embryo in your frying pan when you crack the shell open.  Some cultures are super into that.  I am not. But the risk is thrilling.

Unfortunately, according to the Wildlife Management office, it's actually illegal for me to do that.  Luckily, Inuit beneficiaries are allowed to collect goose eggs as an exception, so a generous friend in town gave us some eggs.  I didn't get my adult Easter egg hunt experience, but at least I didn't have to be illegally "poaching" to taste delicious fresh eggs.

Rob used the eggs to make fancy omelettes with spinach and cheese. There were no partially formed goslings (whew!), just very large and very yellow yolks that gave our omelettes a lot of colour.

Rob also used the goose eggs to make yummy cupcakes!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

my vegetable flowers

I've written before about my indoor Arctic garden and in particular my crazy lettuce plant which is basically turning into a beanstalk reaching up to a giant's castle in the sky.  The plants really react to the twenty-four hours of daylight.  Now they have started to flower.

Mom says we're not supposed to let them flower - we're supposed to eat it before it gets to that stage, otherwise the vegetables end up tasting really bitter.  But they look so gorgeous that we had fun letting them flower.  And now we can see what vegetable flowers look like!

my bok choy 

my carrots

my lettuce plant

my green onions look like they're trying to flower too

Mom suggests we grow two of each plant, one for eating and one for looking at all pretty.  Maybe that's what we'll do next time.

Monday, June 23, 2014

the first river hike of the summer

My friend Christine wanted to get a Slush Puppy at the Co-op grocery store, but the machine had run out.  This was a major disappointment. She had never had one in her whole life before (I know, right? How does that happen?) so she had been looking forward to having a North American experience...and really, a very Northern experience too, since the kids here like to suck on that stuff even in the middle of winter. But alas, today was not going to be the day. Instead, we loaded up on Lunchables as our hiking snacks and headed out into the tundra.

We parked the truck at the bridge we call Second Bridge (to distinguish it from First Bridge) and walked along the river on Ovoyok Road towards Mount Pelly.  Parts of the river was still frozen, but other parts were thawing and you could see the river beginning to flow. It was a lovely sight.

Other parts of the river were not so frozen

washing the dog in the river. The dog didn't appreciate that

It was just so nice to get out on the land.

When we returned at First Bridge, we saw a man holding an empty jug, looking like he was going to either go for a pee or take some water from the river. Hopefully not both. If both, hopefully one before the other.

Celebrating with my favourite healthy hiking snacks

neighbours drying char on the lawn

Friday, June 20, 2014

100 days of happy: day 1

I've decided to take part in the 100 Happy Days Challenge, where every day f0r 100 days, I post a photo about something that made me happy that day. It's part of recognizing the things that make you happy. I will be sharing some of them here on this blog, because I'm hoping it will also show the things in Nunavut that make me happy. But for today, the first day, my first photo will be me and my husband sucking freezies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

summer thaw

With the temperatures occasionally rising above zero these days, it's starting to really feel like summer.  Especially with the Arctic Ocean starting to melt.

We went for a walk on one of the gorgeous evenings to look at the cracks beginning to form in the ocean. One of the benefits of the 24 hours of daylight is that you can go for a walk at nine o'clock at night and it's still as bright as day...because it is day.

Some of the cracks in the ocean ice have gotten quite big. In some parts, I was actually able to dip my hand in the Arctic Ocean, in liquid form.  FYI: It was cold.

This time of year, some of the braver (or foolish?) guys like to go out on the ice with the snowmobiles and skim over the pools of water forming on the ice. It's pretty daring. "Light coloured pools of water is okay," one of my friends said. "Not the dark pools of water. Avoid those." I would be too scared to do it.  Sometimes the snowmobiles don't make it and go through the ice.

And sometimes, the ice is just a good parking spot for snowmobiles.

It was also the perfect kind of night/day for kite boarding (snowboarding with a kite), as I saw my friend Brent was doing out in the Bay.

9PM evening sun dog

By the way, if you're in Ottawa, you may want to check out this Arctic rock show that's happening at Zaphod's this Friday!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Arctic dispatches

I recently published an article in Up Here Magazine about the Russians that drove to Nunavut (yes, drove...over the frozen Arctic Ocean...from Siberia...). I can honestly say this is the best picture that has ever accompanied an article that I've published. You can read the magazine article here.

Also, in happy news, our song "The Longest Night" has been on the charts for CBC Radio3's R3-30 Countdown for top Canadian indie songs of the week...for the third week in a row! This week we're #7. If you could do me a favour and throw us a vote to help make sure we stay there, that would be much appreciated!

Monday, June 9, 2014

my lettuce plant

Check out my lettuce plant. Isn't this amazing?

Isn't it?

Here's how it started off.

April 15

Along with my celery and my green onions. We just took the end of the lettuce that we had bought at the grocery store and put it in water.

Just a few days later, it was already a deep green colour. I moved it into a pot with soil.

April 19

And then it just kept growing.

April 29

And growing. Into this, one month later.

May 29

And then, after that, it started to flower

June 5

This has been happening during the time of the year where the sun is up twenty-four hours a day, so clearly my little Arctic veggie garden has been enjoying the sun.  This reaction from my lettuce plant was not something that I had ever encountered before.  

For a while, I wondered if I'd somehow gotten my hands on a magical beanstalk that was going to keep growing into the sky, and lead me to a giant's castle where I could find a goose that lays golden eggs, or maybe even better, six packs of beer.

It didn't seem like normal lettuce plant behaviour to me though, so I thought I'd ask the advice of gardening experts.

My mom told me that this is what happens at the end of the growing season and when the plant is ready to flower.  Sure enough, it was definitely flowering.

Rob's mom said that it's called bolting and that it happens to an older plant or with dryness and too much heat.

CBC North radio show Trail's end has actually been doing a feature these days on Arctic gardening, with gardening experts on air and online answering our gardening questions, like how do we get soil in a place that has no soil. One day we heard an unusual story about a woman who leaves bits of caribou carcass lying about to attract flies to make compost. Another woman asked about whether bison droppings could be used for fertilizer.

I decided to ask about my magical beanstalk.  But not on the radio, because that's for old people. I asked on Twitter.

Basically, the sense that I've been getting is that the lettuce plant is not supposed to do that, and that I should be trimming it, or at least eating it quicker. But I don't actually like leafy greens. I know, that's kind of weird.  Also, I think it just looks pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cambridge Bay's dump fires

In case you haven't been following the news, Iqaluit's dump has been on fire for weeks, even months, and nothing - absolutely nothing - has worked in putting it out.  It's gone out four times, but has managed to come back to life every time, like some horror movie zombie garbage monster that is born out of a giant volcano. It doesn't help that the water trucks that would be used to put the fire out also need to be used to deliver water to the homes of residents in Iqaluit.  It also doesn't help that there just is a lot of garbage to burn, since the city's population has tripled in fifteen years without the waste management plan necessarily catching up.

I can't help but be reminded of a few years back when there was a huge garbage strike in Toronto, and all of the trash piled up to the heights of basketball nets, forming mountains and mountains of human waste in the parks and yards and streets, culminating in that one day when it began to storm, and the rain washed the garbage down the streets of Toronto, like some modern-day eleventh plague sent down from the heavens to punish Toronto for whatever Toronto did to deserve a garbage river. Now we have Part II: the Dumpcano of Iqaluit (the Toronto of the north).

Dumpcano even has its own Twitter account:

At this point, Dumpcano has won and the fire crew has decided to quit fighting it, hoping that it will burn itself out in hopefully less than a few months.

the Cambridge Bay dump fire

Well, it's always sunny in Cambridge Bay.  Not just because we get 24 hours of sunlight compared to Iqaluit's measly 20, but also because all of our dump fires are generally intentionally started.

We had a number of boxes of paper to dispose of last week, so we brought them out to the dump to burn them. This was pretty much my favourite thing I've ever done as part of my job.

The dump fires here are carefully watched by the dump supervisor, who sits and watches you from his truck. If you have trouble lighting the fire, he'll come over to help you.  Which is kind of a cool job perk.

Luckily we had this to start our fire

There's something incredibly therapeutic about watching a fire burn. Especially a giant pile of paper. I guess it's why we like to sit around a camp fire and watch it like it's a television. It's just so immensely satisfying to watch the patterns and shapes that form in the fire, like art, but really, really, really destructive art.

I should note that I am wearing only a tank top in the photo, not because it's so warm outside, but because the fire was really hot. Yes, fire is hot.

 jaw bones

Burning things at the dump was pretty fun, like a campfire, except when I went home I smelled like garbage, rather than wood fires.  Also, I had a tan.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Arctic spring thaw

a retired snowmobile

Spring has sprung in the North! It doesn't necessarily mean that it's warm. But it does mean that the birds are out singing, and the sun is shining...all the time. All night long. And the snow is starting to melt!  The Arctic ocean is still frozen, but all of the snow banks have begun to melt, which is causing all sorts of havoc to our roads.

Cambridge Bay, the Venice of the North?

Basically, our roads have sort of turned into canals, and some of us have to swim to work.

suck, suck, suck, little truck

The municipal workers have been working around the clock to drain these new lakes that have appeared in the middle of the road, but it's hard to catch up.  And even once the roads are drained, there are all sorts of potholes in the unpaved roads causing all sorts of mischief to our trucks.

The melting of the snow has revealed all sorts of interesting garbage on the roads and yards that have been hidden all winter.

fish bones, everywhere you look

And then there's the mud. Now that we are full swing into spring (aka mud season), the mud streaks all over your clothes are as much of an inevitability of life as death and taxes.  We have learned to just accept it, and maybe hope that one day mud-streaked jeans will be all the rage in fashion, because are we ever rockin' that.

melt, baby, melt

melting ice sculpture