The real north winds have arrived. These NNW gusts are the signature of bear season and Churchill as well even if they are a bit rarer these days. The lake at Camp Nanuq is fluttering and flickering as razor thin pads of ice emerge and migrate to the southern edge.
Over this morning’s pot of coffee, a thin band of white has solidified on the other side of the lake. The ice is building fast, my little puddle on the north side of the cabin is frozen and if this weather keeps up, the lake should be solid by maybe Sunday. The forecast calls for daily highs of -4 or -5C and continued north winds, so I would say its time to put the yacht away for the season. I might have even seen our annual polar bear neighbour rummaging around in the willows across the lake, we’ll see tomorrow I guess.
Of course, its shaping up to be another season where I don’t quite have my firewood cut or the willows eliminated along the road. Plus, a bear ripped up my wall tents this year but I am leaving them in tatters for my film crew so at least I have an excuse for not fixing that side of the yard. But, at least I am catching up on my coffee consumption and sittin’ lookin’ at the lake-ing.
I also caught up on my library discard collecting. Yesterday, we stopped at the Churchill Library who is (fortunately for me) governed by a policy in which they must discard books that haven’t been signed out in the last three or four years. The crazy thing is that aside from the expected ‘how to upholster’ and ‘Interview with the Vampire’ titles, there is always a wealth of northern gems.
When I say gems, I mean early 20th century editions of Antarctic expeditions, Peter Freuchen’s arctic journals, a 1913 guide to fur farming in the north, old issues of The Beaver and stuff like that. The REAL find yesterday was a coffee table book written completely in Russian. This, by itself is neat, but the fact that it was donated to Churchill by the first Russian ship ever to dock at the port AND signed by the Captain… c’mon…
I made three trips to the van with handfuls of books before Judith the librarian took pity on me and brought over a cardboard box. Life is good.
I also ran into my buddy, Ulee, at the library. I first met him years ago when we were doing northern lights tours. His parents come down each year from Arviat, Nunavut to do an Inuit cultural display for tourists, its pretty neat – you get to huddle up in a caribou skin tent, Peter talks about hunting and Mary explains traditional life on the land.
In the winter, they used to build a giant igloo on Button Bay and entertain the tourists while Ulee ran around outside and entertained himself while the boring tourists were around. Usually this meant running around with a snowknife as big as he was, much to the horror of our southern visitors. Good times.
I remember convincing one group to let me bring him along on our buggy tour. I think he was 7 or 8 then… at first, the tourists thought he was cute and then he started pretending to shoot every polar bear we saw. Click… pow… click… pow… smile. That was a fun day, ha.
Anyway, time to go look for bears.