Took a day off and stayed on my friend’s bus down by the river today. Its an old shell of a bus with a variety of additions and knicks knacks tacked on, just sticking out to the river’s edge – sandwiched between the lights of the port on one side, sunset on the other, could be the nicest view in Churchill framed by caribou antlers and a ‘no hippies’ sign.
In summer, the beluga whales drift by, travelling with the tides, feeding on little schools of fish called capelin. For now, the whales have been replaced by fresh water ice, dragged up river by the tide. Fresh water ice is like a clear ribbon of skin formed on the water, flat and smooth as it thickens by the day. It floats up river in the hopes of meeting some bergy bits and greasy saltwater ice. Saltwater sinks as it freezes leaving the impression of an albino oil spill washing ashore twice a day, leaving a wash of white along the rocks, gravel and sand of Churchill’s beaches as it retreats.
Today, there is nothing to meet the freshwater ice though. The river is clear under the frosty blues of fall skies and reflections of grain ships and eerily neo-communist buildings that suround them. Bear season has gone from a feeling of impending doom with ice formed in the coves and lakes frozen by mid-October to the usual relief (at least for tour operators) of a mid-season ‘warm’ spell. Of course, we shouldn’t talk about a late season too soon because one shift in winds and one blizzard can change all of that but right now it looks good. We’ll see how next Sunday replies.