Friday, September 12, 2014

Nunavut's big empty spaces

I woke up on Sunday morning to find that it was snowing. Also, the car wouldn't start. So long, summer.

Once I jump started the truck, I decided that instead of just letting it run for a while, I should go out for a drive by myself out on the land.  I drove out towards Long Point, stopping at various points along the way to take in the scenery and take photos like a tourist.

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of solitude lately.   For whatever reason, I have been enjoying my own company and craving time alone.  I have been thinking about taking my next vacation to some quiet place by myself. My husband and I have talked about moving to a farm one day.  It's a bit odd. On one hand, I enjoy and crave a lot of big city luxuries: experimental music, fashion by independent designers, diverse selections of restaurants, coffee shops and malls. On the other hand, I have tendency to hang out in places where there aren't a lot of people, whether it's Namibia, Nunavut, or even Ottawa's Greenbelt.

It's more than enjoying the wilderness; I genuinely enjoy being alone and having a space all to myself. Maybe it has to do with the fact that until I was eight years old, I grew up in Highland, New York, a small hamlet of some 5000 people. My parents bought this house that was kind of in the middle of nowhere. It had been a model home for a new neighbourhood, but the developer had gone broke and stopped building houses. So we had no neighbours, just sprawling fields and hills all around me. I spent hours playing with myself, inventing imaginary friends and fantastic stories, and suited me fine.

Anyway, it surprised me how well we've adjusted to the small town of Cambridge Bay, and how quickly we've fallen in love with the surrounding land. I love the fact that the ocean is just a few steps away, and if we want to go hiking in the wilderness or kayaking in the water, it's only a matter of walking to the end of our street.  And whenever you want to get away from everything and everyone - not that there are that many folks here in Cambridge Bay! - it's so easy, here in Nunavut, to be alone.  Especially on this island, with a population density that allows a hundred square kilometres per person.