meltwater tundra love


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I have so many stories of people and took pictures of rock and ice. Oops. The story of catching a 34 week old on an airplane last week where the mother was desperately worried her baby will be a wandering soul because we didn’t know the exact GPS coordinates of his birth place. Not so fussed that I gave it mouth to mouth because of a misplaced bag and mask. Oh the North when the problem is not a resuscitation at 1000 feet but that I let the pilots know we had a baby present a little too late. Damn. All turned out ok- its geese season up here so we settled for the name “hunter” feeling that the baby’s choice of early birth probably meant he wanted to spy on the ways of migratory birds. Only once that was settled could we load her into the waiting ambulance on the ground. The way you are born is important. Can’t rush things.

The story of my office geese pool where the first person to spot the arrival of more than 5 snow-geese won $50 bucks and the right to take an afternoon off to go shoot something. The smokers definitely had the advantage with all the breaks they take on the deck. I just sit at my computer (sometimes I wonder what is healthier) and I definitely lost. Failure at bingo. Winning at lunchtime crib. Daily potluck snack hour with my co-workers where Cas, one of the local midwives, is working hard to integrate the concept of “grapes” and cut down the concept of “chips.” How everyone brings baking on payday. How many of my co-workers took my “eat all the country food project” seriously and brought me chunks of meat from their freezer to share. How new friends fed me whale (muktaaq) and muskox (umingmak) not once, but twice! Stories of laughing my guts out because when the crazy arrives and the shit hits the fan, you might as well giggle. How inuk people say yes and no with their eyebrows and I can’t get it right and the response is just utter hilarity instead of judgement. Its been a good month.

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Then, there are the stories I hold but are not mine to tell: of people struggling, of hurt hearts, of suicide, of the nasty intergenerational effects of colonialism that are impossible to fix even though one really wants to try. The tender ones are there too: that sunset run at midnight where so many people are still out on the road it could easily be 5:00. Potlucks and soccer tournaments. The country music on the radio interrupted by announcements to sell prom dresses, aeroplan points or to get someone to visit their relative at the health center; dance tunes in the gym; frozen pizza and blizzards on a lazy holiday afternoon. The bumpy honda rides across the tundra with emerging arctic willow buds to hunt for geese. Yet,  instead of a food-prize, I got to quietly revel in the return of magical child-sized cranes (that no one else seems to love because you can’t shoot them from the sky). The fact that there are eskers (ESKERS people!) and 5000 year old tent rings just down the road. No big deal. The fact that when you say “down the road” everyone knows what you mean because there is only one road out of town. I leave on Tuesday and still haven’t figured out where it goes.

I have no recipe today, even though I tried. The pork-apple I was going to share just doesn’t seem to fit. All I can muster is a full heart and a bucketfull of new stories (some I don’t know how to tell) to bough me up next time I get cold inside.

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