Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gardening in the Snow

We woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. The hot arctic sun had burned it off by noon, but it was still discouraging. I am so ready for spring.

The skidoos are still getting out on the bay, but its getting harder and this is probably the last weekend. One of my work colleagues said that the other day she was coming back from a trip out to her cabin down Frobisher Bay from Iqaluit and she was waist deep in water for big chunks of the trip. Yikes. I asked her if that wasn't incredibly cold and she said, 'nah. you don't notice it with the adreline when you're skidooing through water.'

Another woman who works in my department was just stranded on a skidoo trip up to Arctic Bay (a trip of a couple thousand kilometres, by the way) and she and her husband had to call a charter in to pick them up at one of the DEW line stations. Inuit colleagues are saying that the snow and ice melt is three weeks early this year.

But I'm ready for srping (especially after a trip to Halifax last week, for work -- I couldn't believe how green it was and how nice it was to see trees and grass and great stretches of spring flowers again).

So, what do you do when the spring gardening bug hits and there is no topsoil outside (only gravel and sand in most places, with some bunches of moss etc)? You join the community greenhouse!

We joined the Iqaluit community greenhouse, so this morning we trekked over the melting snow to participate in the big tomato plant-off. John and I are floaters, so we don't have our own plot -- we help to take care of the plots for a couple local shelters and community organizations.

It was so nice to go out of the snowy cold outdoors into the hot humid greenhouse. Plants which were started last week are already sprouted -- and up an inch, in some cases (yeah radishes). Today we were planting the tomatoes and zucchini that hang from the ceiling.

Here is a picture from last year, of the hanging tomatoes being watered by Peter Workman (Peter also conducts the community choir that John and I are part of, by the way).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pictures from the trip to the flow edge (open sea)

As promised in my last posting, here are pictures from our trip two weeks ago to the flow edge (where the open sea is).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Time to Store the Sealskin Mittens

I'm in Ottawa, en route back to Iqaluit after a work trip to Halifax. Everything in Halifax and Ottawa has been sooooo green this past week - almost neon-glowing-late-spring green.
While we are not as far as that in Iqaluit (and don't have the trees that will make the horizon green, of course), spring has sprung. Most of the snow in town has melted, although the snow is still there on the hills outside of town (particularly as you get further away from the bay).  The ice won't completely leave the harbour until July, though.
A week and a half ago, we were lucky enough to get out onto the land while it was still possible to skidoo out. We went to the flow edge (where the open ocean water is) about a two hour skidoo trip each way from town, as part of a group of about 40 people (mostly Inuit) who work in the government department I work in.  It ended up being a glorious sunny day and so much fun. We were about 20 ski doos and 10 kamotiks (the big traditional sleds which are pulled behind skidoos), and I rode most of the way in one of the kamotiks (which made for some very sore joints and bones the next couple days!) John and I really enjoyed the day. Part of the purpose of the trip was hunting, and pretty well every ski doo had a gun. We weren't that successful - one seal and one Canada goose. Pictures to follow.  But coming and going we were going through big pools of standing water on top of the sea ice close to town (particularly at high tide), so you could tell that it was going to get harder for the ski doos to get out on the sea ice. 
Pictures to follow!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lorraine Converts John ... to Bollywood Movies

We don't have cable right now. We have a Zip membership (where you rent DVD's through the mail) but it takes forever for the DVD's to go back and forth by mail. So we were desperate last night to watch a video or DVD.

Which is how I finally convinced John to watch a Bollywood movie I have.

And I am proud to report that I have converted John into a Bollywood fan.

We watched Bunty and Bibli, an Indian Bonnie-and-Clyde-type con movie. Except unlike Hollywood, there are those crazy 10 minute long Indian song and dance numbers which pop up throughout the movie. It was SO much fun to watch. And much to his surprise, John was hooked (he even had to go off and download some of the key musical numbers from I-Tunes afterwards...)

Here's info about the Bollywood hit we just watched:

Life's Little Mysteries and Suprises

[Lorraine writes] After a good break in southern Ontario, we're back in Iqaluit and settling back (after a restless period) into the rhythm of life here in Iqaluit again.

Its funny how, being back, you see things with 'fresh' eyes again. Sometimes it is the little things here that surprise me. Here are some of the everyday surprises I'm noticing again, here in Iqaluit:

1. Blue Bathroom Stains: I grew up on the prairies, and my mother battled valiantly (though mostly unsuccessfully) against the rust from the high iron content in our well water, so we lived with orange stains in sinks and tubs. So I am conditioned to think that bathroom stains are NATURALLY orange or red.

Not here. We get blue stains. Every time I scrub down the tub I marvel at how it builds up. Its from the high levels of copper sulfate in the water (or so I am told). Its very cool.

2. Kids Kids Everywhere: We have the youngest population in Canada here, with a high birth rate and big families. Everywhere you turn there are kids kids kids. Which gives a wonderful energy to a lot of life (and creates havoc in terms of scarce daycare and thus many parents forced to miss work days when childcare crises come up). Because the weather has warmed up, the back lot behind our apartment building is one constant melee of serious-looking hockey games, adolescent-girl dramas, and lots of kids and dogs milling around. A nice and entertaining harbinger of spring.

3. Snow that Melts even if the Outdoor Temperature is Below Freezing: When John and I first noticed this, we were flummoxed. It was -10, and the snow was melting like mad. What the ...... The spring sun is REALLY intense now (sunrise at 4 am, sunset at 9 PM with a couple extra hours of light on either end now). It hits the snow and melts it even when the air temperature is below freezing. Right now getting around is a bit messy, as your choice is to either walk through goopy mud (there is only one paved road through town) or melting snowbanks hiding big pools of water beneath. Who knew we would need not our trusty arctic Sorrels OR the good old rubber boots we schlepped up here with us, but INSULATED rubber boots (particularly if you do any ski-dooing, which we plan to do over the next couple weeks).