Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Arctic Longings


Spirit of the Arctic - photo by Lyn
I found another reason to sit on the couch ... a new Canadian television show called Arctic Air. It is set in the high north and the story revolves around an airline in the Northwest Territories. I'm addicted. It takes me  back to when my dad was working in Cambridge Bay - now called Ikaluktutiak (say that after a few drinks). Picture a six foot two beefy white man bundled in a puffy down parka moving amongst the diminuitive Inuit people. And he swears he assimilated! He lived his dream and while he was doing it, I took the opportunity to venture up to the top of the world for a visit; actually two - one in the summer and another for the winter experience. I could write post after post about the experience but I will leave that up to my dad, Polar Bear from Peering Through a Porthole.

I have never heard silence like that which I experienced out on the land. My dad and I were sitting on our ATVs out on the tundra, watching the sun roll around in the sky (it doesn't set in the summer) and inhaling the stark, majestic beauty when he asked, "Lyn - what do you hear?"
"Nothing - not a thing" I answered.
"That's right" he nodded, quiet satisfaction written all over his face.

And in the absence of any competing sounds (e.g. traffic, planes, city hum), if you listen very carefully, you can hear the whispers of the land, sharing its sacred secrets; you can hear the beating of your heart and the rhythms of your life; meditation is imposed.

On my last night in Nunavut my friend and I built an inukshuk as a marker that we had been there to that magical place. My dad the consummate collector had rescued a small anorak from the landfill and when I placed it beside our inukshuk to take the shot, I felt as though I was photographing the Spirit of the Arctic. My inukshuk lasted several winters and when my dad left the north, it was still standing.

Watching the landscapes and listening to the distinct Inuit clipped, blunt speech on the tv show has stirred a yearning for the Arctic. I wonder if I will ever again hear the profound sound of silence of our North. I wonder if my inukshuk has withstood the test of time - as well as my memories.

The North has much to teach us. If you are interested in Inuit culture, this will be a wonderful resource.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. I traced your monument on google earth and it still stands. Your memories are shared with everyone who ever experienced the special feeling of the far north. I think of it every day and this morning I completed my short story and yes it is about the Arctic. Po;ar Bear

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