Thursday, March 19, 2015

The end of the blizzard

(continued from yesterday's account of the blizzard)

After the blizzard: Cambridge Bay has a lot of snow to shovel

When we woke up on Wednesday morning, the blizzard was still raging...but we could tell it was getting tired out. At least we could see the houses on the other side of the street.  The schools and offices were closed again for the morning, but we all felt hope in the air.

And finally the weather cleared up. The announcements were made that the government offices would open again in the afternoon, and schools were also running. The Hamlet office announced that municipal services were running again, but it could take up to two more days before water could be delivered to all the houses. Still, the sun was out, the blizzard warning was lifted, and it was warming up to a balmy -33 degrees outside with the windchill. It hasn't been that warm since November.

I embraced the warm weather and went outside for a walk. The snow drifts were impressive and daunting, but the snow ploughs were already hard at work.  The water and sewage trucks were on the roads (I tried to flash them a charming smile to direct them to my house first, but they were busy).  Kids were out in their yards playing, and teens were busy making money shovelling porches.

 Ploughing snow must feel like a Sisyphusian effort sometimes here in the Arctic

Hey boys, come over to our place!

Poor dog


It was really neat to see similarities between the snow drifts piling up against the houses after the blizzard, and the sand-covered abandoned houses I saw in the African ghost town of Kolmanskop in Namibia.

Arctic / Africa

 Namibia / Nunavut

Thank God the blizzard finally ended. The pile of dishes in my sink was getting to be overwhelming. We were out of utensils and had no more space left in our kitchen. After three days without showering, we were starting to stink. I could practically visibly see the stink lines rising from my body, like the Peanuts character Pigpen.

You could tell the whole town had been slowly going a little antsy with cabin fever.  The normally polite and inspiring Cambridge Bay News Facebook group was exploding in flame wars as people got on each other's nerves. I suppose it was the modern equivalent of the old days when people were cramped in an igloo, waiting the storm out, and getting into arguments. know, when a family got snowbound in an old haunted hotel during the off-season and all work and no play makes Jack...something something...

My father-in-law was also stuck in blizzard on his farm in Prince Edward Island, with the snow piling up to 10 foot canyons. His wise words of advice to surviving the blizzard were, "Remember as long as the internet is up, you are not alone." It's true. It really did suck to go from Sunday to Wednesday without a shower or running water, but I think we would have all gone crazy, like in the Shining, if we didn't have Facebook and Netflix.

We had spent a lot of our snowbound time watching Wentworth Prison. It was interesting to watch a TV show about a prison while stuck in your house during the blizzard. On the bright side of things, being stuck in your hours for even a week is nowhere near as bad as being stuck in a stabby prison for 12 years. On the other hand, even prisons have working toilets and running water...

But even so, our time during the blizzard made me really reflect on what we do with our day.  To be honest, a lot of us up north secretly crave a blizzard day: a day where school and work is cancelled and we are suddenly given the unexpected freedom do to what we want for the rest of the day. Now's that chance to read the book we've been meaning to read, or try that new work out, or make a delicious slow-cook meal, or clean the house inside out. But the reality is, after a day or so, you get tired of this so-called freedom and become impatient to go back to the old routine.  For some reason, we no longer have the energy to attack that to-do bucket list - especially when you have to conserve water - and then you find yourself lying on the couch, sedating yourself with eight hours of Wentworth Prison.

So when the blizzard died down and we could finally go out, it felt glorious to feel the sun on our face.  It didn't matter that it was -33. I felt warm! I felt alive.

This dog broke loose from his chain during the blizzard

Ready to play