This weekend the outside world warmed up. On Sunday the air tasted like a glacier-fed mountain stream and I made french toast. Both were significantly delicious, but the late night walk home to an almost full moon where I was literally huffing in and out because the cold air was so damn delicious was more of a highlight than the lazy morning where I didn’t get paged until noon and was able to cook. Not to diminish satisfaction from things covered in syrup and a package of $14 bacon, but the experience of trying to eat oxygen was better. (But, in case you want to run your own comparison project, the recipe is below).
Like most things up here, the transition from dry to moist-.cold to warm, came without warning and didn’t make much sense. Now its snowing again and the roads have re-frozen where they were mushy brown potholes of doom for the past few days. Im curious to leave work to see if the bmx bikes that came out in full force over the weekend will be replaced with sleds and GT racers. Children travel in packs around town, unaccompanied by adults, and “go play out” is a clear refrain when anyone is in the way, asking for snacks, or is bothering their mom. Most have home-made snowsuits, and some have matching died fur for trim. Seemingly popular among the elementary crowd are hand-made super-hero snow-outfits. So far Ive seen batman, spiderman, and superman all done up with fric-frac, bias tape, hand embroidered chest decorations, and big matching fur hoods. The middle schoolers all have their names and sport numbers embroidered on their backs; an ingenious solution to identifying girls during that period where they all dress alike in desperation to look like individuals. On Easter Sunday a group of older men were hanging out in front of the northern store, somehow managing to avoid the catupulting melting ice. All of them were wearing sailor hats (sailor hats!) and emphatically wishing all the ladies happy holidays. I am not sure why they were there, or if that happens every year, but what great inspiration to buy the world’s most expensive ham.
Ive definitely had moments of feeling like a total fool but am overall in the swing of life in a new place. Ive found the gym, yoga, zumba, and a birthday party with eight kinds of hot cheese dip. I have vegetables in the fridge. I can get dressed to go out the door in five instead of twenty minutes. Ive stopped getting lost (the grid system helps) and I actually managed to find someone’s house for a home visit from directions akin to “the red place next to where bob amuaka lived five years ago with the green honda atv and down the road from the hockey park.” When I got inside I had to pace my visit out over an hour and a half because everyone was engrossed in radio bingo. 13 people, all ages, all dabbing like mad to the radio announcer. I asked my clinical questions during the pauses, and had to bite my tongue not to beg a card so I could try to keep up and play. I really should have known to come at a different time but you live and learn. In other words, work is going surprisingly well.
That said, if I didn’t have total aversion to the disastrous self destroying process of any more medical training, I would definitely throw my cards into becoming a flight nurse. I managed a medivac this week and the nurses just blew my mind. They wear the most amazing jumpsuits and catapult around the arctic doing the real hard work- running the medivacs, shuttling the most sick somewhere safer, holding the hands of the scared and alone. The people up here-inuk and southerners alike-have lives where the edges of survival are always at the forefront. It leads to acceptance of whatever outcome will come one’s way. If the weather is bad, the weather is bad. If someone is sick, they are sick. Might as well be calm about it. When I am fumbling orders, confused about process, lost in translation, and scared out of my mind being so far from sections, forceps, epidurals, and the other staleworts of modern obstetrics Ive been thinking about those nurses high up in the sky far away from anything and the older inuk out there once on the tundra having their babies on the land. The elderly I can only imagine from stories, but those nurses seemed like solid people taking my patient so kindly south; I would like to find emulation in that. Calm. Acceptance. Hopefully I will soon stop all this “faking it till making it” and feel at ease with more new scope and skills and learning of catching babes so far away from guarantees of perfect outcomes every time.
Which is why im giving you some of my french toast. French toast is easy. Its tasty. It promises confidence, ease, and a lovely start to the day even when you are a bit run off your feet from call, life, or too much tv. You can even put toppings on it! I had bread left from a batch of sourdough faron made before I left home and enjoyed covering it in frozen berries, yoghurt, almonds, and some hemp hearts I stowed away in my carry-on luggage. A familiar taste of home almost beat the magic of being away for the highlight of my week. Hope it does the same for you.
■1 cup milk
■1 tsp pure vanilla extract
■¼ tsp salt and pinch of cinammon
■6 slices thick bread
■Maple syrup, berries, hemp hearts, granola, yoghurt, or peaches for serving.
1. Whisk together the first four ingredients in a wide, shallow bowl.
2. Place a large pan over low to medium heat, and add enough butter so the French toast will taste delicious and not dry.
3. Add the bread slices to the milk/egg mixture. Let them get nice and saturated.
4. Cook one side, then another until they are golden brown. Serve with toppings, coffee, and a new Yorker magazine- or, to be amazed, this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_ice