Thursday, August 30, 2012

Winter is coming...


To borrow a phrase from Game of Thrones, "winter is coming." Summer is definitely over, and we are now in the midst of autumn, with cold, dark nights (the way they should be) and noticeably cooler weather during the day. The mosquitoes are gone, but the flies are ever-present, though we should be saying a welcome goodbye to those annoying creatures in a few weeks. Back in Ontario during the winter, I would often not bother putting on a jacket if I was taking out the trash, it being a short walk down the driveway. Not so here - I'm told we need full parka and gear to go from the house to the car. I'm actually looking forward to seeing what winter has in store for us. The coldest I've ever experienced before was 35 below, up on Lake Temagami back in '91. I don't imagine 70 below is twice as bad, because -35 sucked. A lot. I think it's just going to be further along the 'suck' scale, but maybe Mother Nature reads blogs and will make me eat my words - I'll let you know in 4 months if I was right.  With 9 months of winter, I've got a lot of time to figure it out.

Between the bugs and the dust that blankets everything like red talcum powder, I can begin to understand why many of the seasoned veterans actually prefer the winter to its warmer counterparts. It's hard to put a picture in your mind of how bad the bugs are. I've dealt with my fair share of them on camping trips and backyard BBQ's, but nothing like this. For anyone who's seen the Hitchcock classic "The Birds", imagine those as bugs and you get an idea. Lily and I went for a walk around the outskirts of town last night, and it was cold enough that my cheeks were icy after 30 minutes, but I still needed my bug hat. It's not that they bite you, but to have them swarming around your eyes and mouth makes walking rather unpleasant otherwise.

I am really, really thankful that we have a large pantry of food and lots of cookbooks to see us through the winter months. In the worst months, the planes don't arrive on a regular schedule, so when food and alcohol becomes scarce, it's comforting to know that we can still enjoy all of our favourites and big glasses of late harvest vidal without worrying about tapping into the black market. You're probably chuckling over the idea, but when the alcohol shipments are delayed, a 26er of vodka can reach $300! I joked with Lily that I would bring a case of rum up and become the 'Al Capone' of Nunavut, but we scrapped the idea after she became concerned that I might wake up with a polar bear head in my bed courtesy of the Nunavut "mob."

Of more concern is that when the weather is bad, the water and sewage trucks don't always make their schedules. For those of you who weren't aware, the permafrost here is about two feet from the surface, and digging through that is like digging through rock, so all of the houses here are built on stilts attached to concrete pads, and our water and sewage tanks are sitting on the ground below our house. Because of the permafrost, things you take for granted like water and sewer pipes are non-existent here, so we have a water truck come three times a week, and a sewage truck arrives twice a week. The trucks are nearly identical, but I can assure you, one of them smells a lot nicer than the other. We also have a large diesel fuel tank bolted next to the house, and that is what powers our hot water tank and our furnace, both of which are impressively powerful. The room they are stored in is off the back hall, which could double as a sauna if we panelled some wood in there. I'll need to get a job before we consider putting a hot tub out back.

I'm still trying to figure out how to chop my video into bite-sized pieces our blog server can handle once our internet is off dial-up speeds in a couple of days. If anyone has a good, cheap (as in, free), small program that works well, please let me know.

-J

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