Of Ice and Men - Day 3 #BarAThon
I am participating in the Barathon with the blogging group, Blog a Rhythm for the weeks of June 14 to 30th.
Today's prompt is "Of Ice and Men." I got my inspiration for this fictional piece from my experience living in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut way up on King William Island in 1997-98. My husband, Brian got a teaching job teaching adults for eight very long months. I thought I would go crazy at times, but managed to get through it and even enjoy some moments along the way.
I squinted through the dim greyish light onto the vast body of water, now an endless white frozen landscape of snow and ice. The sky and sea blended together like an empty white canvas, so bleak and desolate.
The wind tore at my scarf threatening to pull it right off and I had to pull it tighter around my face. Even my Snowgoose parka was no match against the frigid Arctic winter wind. My glasses iced up with each breath I took and I couldn’t see anything so I had to take them off. Now I really couldn’t see anything, not that there was that much to see.
I’d never felt cold like this before and I considered myself a hardy Canadian, able to endure long cold winters. Winters down South in Ontario were nothing in comparison to this.
I’d arrived in September and there was already snow then. Now it was January. I wasn’t sure I would be able to endure it until July when I would get my trip back home for a few weeks.
What had possessed me to come to this desolate island so far from civilization? The darkness, the isolation and the cold were enough to push a person over the edge. Already some of my work colleagues had packed it in and returned home.
“Why do you want to go to the Arctic, Tom?” my sister Heather had asked me, looking at me as if I was crazy.
At the time it had seemed like a great adventure to take a plane and fly up to the Arctic to work as a cook at the small hotel. The reality was all together different. Dark, isolated and freezing cold. And the Inuit were so different, too. It was like being in a foreign country.
“What are you doing here, Kabloona?” a voice called out. I turned to see Peter, my Inuk neighbour coming towards me. He liked calling me Kabloona, the Inuktitut name for a white person from the South.
“Morning, Peter,” I said, trying to sound enthused.
“It won’t be long now,” Peter said with one of his infectious grins that spread across his face. The cold didn’t seem to bother him at all.
“It won’t be long for what?” I asked, curious.
“Wait and see,” he said, with a laugh.
We stood there for a while waiting. Nothing happened.
“I think I’ll go now,” I said, not wanting to admit I was cold.
“Wait. It’s almost time,” Peter urged, pointing to where the sea and sky met.
I looked out at the horizon, unsure of what he was talking about.
We watched as a small sliver of sunlight peeked above the horizon, a tiny glint of light that grew stronger with each passing moment. After a few minutes, the sun burst from the horizon.
“The sun has returned,” Peter said with satisfaction, the rays lighting up his face.
I closed my eyes and basked in the weak rays as if I was on a tropical vacation in the Carribbean.
I blinked at the bright light, a small glimmer of hope stirring deep inside me. The sun cast a warm orange glow over the frozen land and the Arctic didn’t seem so bleak after all.