About Me

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Inukjuak, Quebec, Canada
Always up for a new adventure. I love Musicals, photography, my family, road trips, and beads. So far I have been fortunate enough to teach in Japan, South Korea, Kenya, and the Canadian Arctic. Currently in my 5th year in the frozen North and up for any new adventure.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Wind Lullaby?

It seems as if the wind is a sign of the coming winter. It has been a constant sound; night and day. It comes mainly off the Bay headed inland and then onto the far coast. We have been under wind warnings for the last two days; gusts of 90+ kms from Hudson's Bay. It is interesting to note how the wind seems to affect the students we teach, for the past two days they have been decidedly off in both behaviour and work. Tonight the wind is strong enough to cause my house to shake, not much but enough that I feel a slight tremor. Even though I know the source of the sounds and movement I am finding it difficult to sleep tonight. Is it the wind? or merely my own thoughts that keep me from sleep? Probably a mix of both.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Taking time to play out on the Land

For weeks we have been trying to organize an outing out on the tundra, hopefully taking a boat up the coast but it bad weather, bookings, and a broken boat thwarted us at every turn. Finally it was decided that boat or no boat, rain or shine we were going to take a day off from school and head out onto the land. Told the students to listen to the FM radio in the morning just to be sure if school was cancelled, and despite the grey sky and high wind we set out. It was a funny kind of caravan that took the road out of town yesterday; a column of atv's followed by a truck filled with teachers and their dogs. The farther we drove the more beautiful it became. The sky was still a dark steel colour but the tundra itself was a mosaic of fall. The red, orange and green mixed with the natural black rocks, with hints of blue lakes and sky as we went farther and farther out. Riding on the lead atv I couldn't keep from smiling. Everyone at the school had been a little out of sorts of late, both students and teachers so this was going to be a much needed outing. The wind was high as we raced along making conversation a little difficult but the local teacher I was with tried her best to explain so of what we were seeing as we passed; the names of the lakes, who had fall camps where. We finally stopped close to one of the big lakes to set up. I headed out a bit farther along the coast with some of the local ladies to do a little berry picking. As we picked a learned a a bit about the local medicines; the red berries are good for colds and sore throats, and if you mix them with the black they are even better. Some of the teachers were trying their had at fishing in the lake but it was really too windy a day for it. When the ladies and I headed back we found quite a feast set out; fresh sea urchins and mussels, and someone had caught a seal that morning to bring on the outing. I have never seen anything like it. One of the ladies was busily skinning and butchering it; and when you looked at it you realized just how suited it is to living in a northern climate. Over half of the seal's size was the layer of fat that would have protected it during the winter and in the frigid Arctic waters. It was fascinating in a way to see the ladies slice up the seal, they really do use every part of it, and after they enjoyed the organs raw the rest was thrown in a pot on the fire. Soon enough there was a pan of mussels steaming and a pot of seal bubbling. While they cooked the ladies were showing us how to slice open the sea urchins, calling them the caviar of the north. Not everyone tried the urchins but I found them to be very tasty, they actually reminded me of something I had eaten before but I couldn't place it. In a way it seemed as if they ladies were testing us to see how many would actually try the urchins and raw mussels. I had no problem with the urchins but I draw the line at raw mussels, I like them fine cooked but... the cooked seal however was excellent, warm with a slight gamey flavour. It was such a wonderful thing to sit by a roaring fire under an ever increasingly blue sky. The wind was cold but the sun and fire were warm, and I was so comfortable that I actually started to doze off while a group of the teacher started to kick around a haky sac. Take a minute and picture that haky sac in the tundra? Why not :) Next thing I knew I was once again racing across the tundra on the back of an atv; this time under a sunny blue sky, still windy and with a huge grin on my face. I was such a wonderful day, everyone seemed to have been re-energized with a smile on their face. Picture and stories really can do justice to the beauty up here, the sheer openness of the land and sky, and yet you can never forget that you are a visitor here.