Monday, June 30, 2008

The Ship Comes In! ... and more Alianait ....

Its been a beautiful couple days, and its really starting to feel like summer in the arctic. Last week, the ice went out of the harbour, though you can still see it in the distance. And yesterday, the first sealift ship of the year arrived! Here it is:

Its been a really busy time, with work plus coordinating all the volunteers for the Alianait music festival. To tell you the truth, I'm at the end of my energy reserve, tapped out after a solid week of volunteer-rustling for musical concerts pretty well every day. So this afternoon, I shut off my cell phone and escaped my email for an hour, and went down to the harbour to check out that ship and look at the sea. Here are photos I took looking back into town from the pier:

After that brief sojourn, it was back to the big top tent at Alianait, to check in with John, who I'd roped into doing last minute security this afternoon. Here is a picture of three faithful Alianait volunteers: PolarMan (Iqaluit's own genuine superhero), Joshua (my 'wildest' volunteer), and John, Alianait pinch-hitting-volunteer extraordinaire:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

John gets to eat polar bear meat....

[Lorraine writes]: Well, John, lucky guy, got to try out polar bear meat yesterday. A polar bear wandered into the outskirts of town, and was shot. Some of the meat was brought to the shelter where John is working, so he got to eat his first polar bear meat.

Here is the CBC story, and a picture of the meat being carted away:

Children run for cover before polar bear shot near Iqaluit
Elementary students were on scavenger hunt when wandering bear spotted

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 6:12 PM CT Comments45Recommend32
CBC News

A polar bear sent dozens of elementary school students racing for safety before the animal was shot and killed Wednesday morning in a park just outside of Iqaluit.

The bear died only a few hundred metres from the pavilion at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, which is about a kilometre from Iqaluit.

At the time, 37 kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students from Nakasuk School were at the park for a year-end picnic.

"The students were up running on the hill here, and I was at the bottom watching them, and they were on a scavenger hunt," teacher Jason Rochon told CBC News on Wednesday.

"Two men started running down and waving their arms. And they were like, 'Get out of here, get back to the cabin!' So I was kind of wondering why they were upsetting the kids so much. And they were like, 'There's a polar bear! There's a polar bear!'"

Lazarus Awa and another summer student working with Nunavut Parks raised the alarm after Awa spotted the bear rooting through the contents of a garbage can near the Sylvia Grinnell River.

"This is my first time seeing [one] here in the park," Awa said. "I was so amazed, and it's a huge, old male polar bear."

Conservation officers and the RCMP arrived on the scene and decided that given so many people were in the vicinity of the polar bear, that there was no choice but to kill the animal.

Speaking in Inuktitut, conservation officer Johnny Nowdlak said attempts were made to scare the bear away with a warning shot, but it didn't work.

Nowdlak cited safety as the reason why they shot the bear, saying there were children nearby and summer visitors had set up about a dozen tents near the river.

The bear was shot in an area popular with tourists and residents. It then fell onto a ridge above the end of the park's road, overlooking the tents.

Nowdlak, who skinned the polar bear after it was killed, estimated that it was male, about 10 years old and approximately 2½ metres long. It appeared to be healthy and was likely looking for food in the park, he said.

The bear's meat and skin were delivered Wednesday afternoon to the office of the Iqaluit hunters and trappers association, where the meat was doled out to some lucky bystanders.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Signs of summer ...

[Lorraine writes] Summer is starting to burst out even here in the arctic.

Today, after weeks of average temperatures of about +5, it was +17. This week's paper had a profile picture of an unusual arctic visitor: a robin -- probably the most photographed robin in a long time.

John tells me that the "news on the street" is that the icebreaker is within a week away, ploughing the way open for the first sealift ship of the year bringing community supplies. (John has finished the book, hoorah! and has been working at the local men's shelter, which is an excellent source of 'news on the street" info about everything you could possibly imagine ....)

And the big exciting thing today is that the Alianait tent went up. The Alianait Festival is a music and arts festival that runs for a week and a half starting this Saturday. Somehow I was rustled into the position of 'volunteer coordinator' and now I am happily trying to sort out about 200 volunteers (and counting) for the festival. Here is a picture of the tent going up (picture taken by Ed Maruyama, the official photographer for the festival; that crazy looking space-age building in the background is Nakasuk elementary school, by the way), and a link to the festival site:

My "honourary mother" Jack has been complaining that there is no 'real news' on our blog about what we are doing in our lives right now, so there you have it. I'm up to my eyeballs in music festival volunteers. John is finished the book and busy sussing out important 'news on the street'... and the worms are doing fine (no more crazy escape attempts)... all is well ...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

1,000 Household Helpers Move In

One of the conundrums about living up here is what to do with compost. There are no community-wide composting programs here (there is one small test one for a few households, but nothing we could participate in). It was a shock to start throwing everything in the garbage again after years of getting used to more and more recycling and composting. (It was also sooooo easy to start doing ....) It also seemed crazy not to compost, because the outdoor soil here is almost all rock and gravel (with patches of moss etc on the tundra, but nothing you could garden with).

So, I began to dream of worms. Compost worms. To chew up our compost and give us nice soil in return. I have friends who have used compost worms in apartments, etc. for years, and swear by them. So I became obsessed with getting compost worms. I blogged about this before: I was plotting how to ship up compost worms - send them by air cargo? take them on the plane as 'pets'?

Then some friends up here phoned us to tell us they were moving and wanted their compost worms to go to a good home. So, about 1,000 little household helpers moved in on Saturday. They were a little spooked by the move, so there were a couple wild escape attempts at first, but as soon as we kept the lid off the bin and shone light in, they all burrowed back down into their dark wonderland. It amazes me that they are so efficient, and industrious, and don't even smell! And you can actually HEAR them if you get up close to the box. I'm very excited about their arrival. Go worms go!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night

So, it's 1 am, and I'm looking out the window at two odd realities.

1. Its light out there.
2. There are a LOT of kids wandering around out there.

Welcome to the world of 24 hour sunlight. Official sunset is something like 11:30 and sunrise is something like 2:00 right now (OK, scurry off now and look it up on your search engines), but lengthy twilightson either end mean no darkness. And if adults' bodyclocks get whacked out by this (mine certainly is), then imagine what it must be like for kids.

By 2:30 or 3:00 each morning now, our east facing bedroom window has strong arctic spring sunlight beating down on it. So I've resorted to doing something I swore I'd never do: I put tinfoil over the windows as this seems to be the best way to block the light and actually get some sleep.

And I'm wearing my sunglasses pretty much all times of the day now, when I'm outside. Sometimes it is because of intense sunlight during the day (which comes and go with intermittent greyness and fogginess), and often it is because of the dust. Because it is almost always windy here, and (with few paved roads) VERY dusty, the sunglasses keep the grit from flying into my eyes. So between 24 hour light and 24 hour dust storms, I'm all about wearing my sunglasses at night ....

Time to go back to the dark tin-foiled bedroom cave and try to get some sleep .... (John is fast asleep after tiring himself out by going dog sledding today -- but that's another post ....)

p.s. thanks to Peggy who brought up the issue of sunglasses at night ...