View From The Glen

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Delights of the North

This is the second of my weekly contribution to the Won't You Be My Neighbour series, started by Amy of The Never True Tales. Today my guest blogger is Lindsay Below, a once-local writer friend of mine who moved to the great white north last year.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Lindsay. I’m an author and one of the privileged few who can claim to be in Denise’s critique group. We used to meet in person to discuss our recent works-in-progress. Unfortunately, that ceased when I relocated from Southern Ontario to Iqaluit, Nunavut -- the meeting in person, that is. Thankfully, our critique group lives on even though I’m only there by proxy.

Introductions aside -- sit back, relax, and let me regale you with some of the things I’ve noticed since I moved to the picturesque North:
  • It’s only “picturesque” in the winter. By the time the snow melts away in May, I’m left with a city of brown. Formerly snow-capped brown mountains, brown dirt with the occasional scrawny brown weed, and heck, let’s throw in the muddy brown water of Frobisher Bay (I haven’t gotten close enough to say that for sure, but I can assume). Plus, by the time the snow is gone, I can see this brown landscape in glaring detail due to the 24-hour sunlight.
  • Every now and again, someone will run into a power grid with his skidoo or four-wheeler and knock out the power to the city. In the summer, that’s just fine and dandy (see: 24-hour sunlight). But in the winter, I have the opposite problem (24-hour darkness). I guess that’s why there are so many births in the fall.
  • My house is built for the hard winters, with thick insulation. This means that in the summer, I might just suffer heat stroke from staying inside.
  • I live on a street with no name, as does 99% of the rest of the city. There are many nameless streets. If I were to direct someone to my house, I would tell them, “The red one on the hill.” Kidding. I also give the building number. But not having a street name does cause problems when directing someone to mail something to me. They go bonkers when I just give them the building number and P.O. Box.
  • Note to all forms that demand no P. O. boxes in the “address” section: There are no mail boxes in Iqaluit. Only post office boxes.
  • On an optimistic note, this town does have one named street. The Road to Nowhere (yes, it has a street sign reading that). Want to guess where it leads? You got it, nowhere.
  • Concrete tends to crack down the middle up here, ergo my house is built on stilts instead of a foundation. This means that when it gets windy, the house sways.
  • In order to keep the water from freezing, the pipes are heated to near boiling point in the winter. That means that the tap water is always warm! I could always buy bottled water at the store for ridiculous prices.
  • Just because it needs to be said, my first grocery bill (for two people) was to the tune of $700. I didn’t buy caviar, just regular groceries.
  • If you need to hone your skills in bargaining, fly up here. You can do so and indulge your love for genuine Inuk-crafted figurines, artwork, and clothing at your convenience. Going to the grocery store? Waiting for your meal to be served at the restaurant? These items are brought to you by their artisans for special perusal.
  • Of course, if you’d like to fly up to Iqaluit, it’ll cost you round about $1300 for a return trip from Iqaluit-Ottawa. I highly recommend that one rather than the Iqaluit-Montreal flight, which often overnights unexpectedly in Kugaaruk.
  • A caribou herd used to migrate through town. Yes, USED to. Eventually, they realized that if they come within eyesight of the town, they WILL be shot.
  • On a regular day, the town shuts down between noon and one o’clock for lunch. That means you can pretty well time the traffic jam on the four corners.
  • Rather than snow days, there are “freezing days” in Iqaluit. If it gets too cold, the town shuts down.
Luckily, I still love my boyfriend despite all this (he’s the reason I moved up here to begin with). If you’d like to find me on the web, look in these places:

Twitter - (I promise not to tweet your ear off about the delights of Iqaluit… mostly)

Thanks for having me, Denise!

You're so welcome, Linds!


Justine Darkholme said...

It sounds like a beautiful place to live. However, I don't think I've got the insulated balls to live somewhere where they have "freezing" days. I'm barely surviving a German winter. =]

Anonymous said...

Oh come now. That brown thing is unfair, we had a solid 3-4 weeks of green last year!

L. K. Below said...

Justine - I hibernate. It works wonders, though occasionally my boyfriend bursts into my warm bubble with REALLY cold hands.

Sadly, my (anonymous) boyfriend doesn't lie. We did see some green... but 3-4 weeks was it. I come from Southern Ontario where it's green from April-October.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, both of you!

Anonymous said...

I thought I should also chime in that the $1300 figure is also if there is a seat sale available. Yes, thats a sale price. A lot of times you're looking at $1800 ish for a return trip. On bad times where the seats are almost all sold(usually if you're trying to get a very short notice ticket) it can climb into the $2400+ range.

Anonymous said...

Lindsey, I had no idea you were so far north. I love writing in the winter, but my winter only lasts 4 - 5 months out of the year, I'm not sure I could do longer.
You've given me a whole new light on the costs and the life that far North - wow.
It definitely gives you lots of writing time. Impressive writing time.
Kay Dee

L. K. Below said...

Kay Dee, thanks for stopping by :) Yes, it can get pricey up here for certain things (unfortunately plane tickets are one of those things).

Definitely makes for lots of writing time when I'm too leery of the cold weather to go outside LOL.

Thanks for commenting :)

Pat Dale said...

Hey, Lindsey! You should change your name from Below to Above. When folks ask 'above what?' you can answer 'just about anything that breathes, and some things that don't.' Seriously, you may have found the ideal writers retreat.
I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, so I have an idea about the rapidly changing daylight. And our caribou learned to love the oil pipeline. They actually changed migration routes to enjoy the warmth of those pipes where they come above ground. Who said animals are dumb?
Pat Dale

Gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay! I hope Tourism Nunavut doesn't get a hold of your post...they might shut you down. You're bad for business. lol

I think the power outages and the poor Internet service would anger me the most. Other than that I think I could handle it.

Anonymous're a lucky man!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay:
Enjoyed your Arctic tales -- I never 'lived' there but did work on the Beaufort Sea coast and many of the Arctic islands in 1970-71.
What did I learn? Be careful going cross country (and cross sea ice) in a white-out, ditto on a helicopter trip, build at least half an igloo to shelter behind if nature calls when the wind is blowing (shelter behind is a pun), and watch out for the puddles under the snow at breakup -- they can be rivers.

Chris H .... From Muse

L. K. Below said...

Pat - LOL you crack me up. And animals can be very smart... even if it did take that caribou herd about 50 years before realizing that migrating through town left fewer of them than when they'd started...

Gina - The power outages aren't so bad. They happen infrequently for the most part and I've learned to grope my way to plug in the phone that isn't cordless LOL. To think when I came up here we didn't even have a lighter or matches for the candles -- THAT was a fun power outage LOL.

Chris - LOL you crack me up. Clearly you've learned some valuable lessons of the north!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting everyone :)

Charlie said...

Have to say I just read your blog after reading Marsha's blog on warm Florida sun, sea and surf... was a cold abrupt change! haha. But like I said in Marsha's post, if my muse can't enjoy the beach life and has to be holed up inside on a snowy-blowy day, she'll settle for a roaring fire and nice cup of cocoa. We just have to feed our muse the right comination for the time. But I must say the pictures are beautiful!
Thanks for sharing.
C.K. Volnek.

L. K. Below said...

Charlie, I took the pictures myself when I first came up here last April. Quite picturesque up here, as I said. Though I do imagine it was quite a shock coming from a post about sunny beaches LOL

Thanks for commenting!

Cheryl said...

I should officially stop complaining about our winter now, but it's not going to happen. Your place is pretty, but I think I'll stick to the NE where I get four seasons, the wild animals are usually only as big as a deer, and my house doesn't sway in the wind; though we have lost some pretty large trees when it gets windy.

Thanks for the great post, Lindsay.


L. K. Below said...

Haha Cheryl, if it's even a little bit chilly I don't blame you for complaining. I hate the cold and stay inside as much as possible. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

Denise Nielsen said...

Welcome to all those friends and followers of Lindsay. And a big thanks to Lindsay herself. The cold north must be good for her - she's been a publishing powerhouse since she got up there! Everytime I turn around, she has another book contracted.

L. K. Below said...

I've certainly had lots of opportunities to power on through some works in progress! 2011 looks to be the year of releases -- now I have to work on 2012.

Thanks for having me, Denise :)