Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Know You are in the Arctic When...

So picture Saskatchewan. Now go straight up, through Nunavut. Over all the rocks and trees and tundra. Over the caribou, lichen, streams, and ravens. Drop off the top of Canada's mainland, cross the frigid waters that will turn you to ice in minutes, then stiffly climb onto the shores of Victoria Island. There you are. In Cambridge Bay.

Imagine a flat, white, landscape. Depending on the day that white will be cut in half on the horizon with blue-bird sky that surrounds you 180 degrees or with a matching shade of blowing white which makes you feel like you are in one of those snow globes someone is shaking vigorously.

Welcome to the North.

It has been cold up here. Not just "oh I think I'll wear a coat today" cold but more like "oh, I think I have to bring my blowdryer and an extension cord to work today so I can de-ice my lock when I get home" cold.

My walk to work is approximately 5 mins (or 1.5 Lucinda Williams songs I've discovered). And in that time all kinds of fun and interesting things can happen to you when it is -50 with the windchill.

Things like:
-your face freezing to the inside of your coat from the moisture in your breath. As if you licked the entire front of your face then stuck it to the side of a metal door.
-your eyelashes freezing shut
-a trail of snotcicles (icicles made of snot) clinging to your upper lip
-a pain, burning, immobility of movement in the fingers which leads you to believe that your fingers are actually freezing. It is not just an expression any more.
-your earphone cord seizing up to a taught, brittle, wire instead of the normally flexible plastic handing loosely by your side.
-tendrils of hair coated by breath moisture turning into wisps of ice hair framing your face, which then melts and plasters to your forehead imediately after stepping indoors.

It's fun. It's something different all the time. Today it is only -37 with the windchill so people are outside snow kiting in the bay to celebrate the chinook like change in weather.

Got to love those hearty northeners, hey?

ABB in 2006. Like my mitts?

I am bringing over more posts from my other blog on the days when there are no politically incorrect professors, no bizarre statements from classmates, and no flashbacks to my emergency department days. 


lobster said...

Why? thats the stuff we like reading

Albinoblackbear said...

Haha, well I am always in a bind these days for material. Not like the good ole days working in the trenches as an ER or arctic outpost nurse.

I am glad to hear it is what you like to read--most days I feel like my life is one giant study session and I bore myself even writing about it! :)

Must. Get. Over. Writers. Block.

OMDG said...

How apropos! I was just complaining about the "harsh" winter we're having in Philadelphia. It's been in the 20s lately! Your post kind of puts things in perspective.

Though I will say, I used to be much tougher in the cold when I lived in Chicago. Now I'm a giant wuss.

Albinoblackbear said...

Ireland is turning me into a wuss also.

I complained about the "windchill" today....let's face it, it was a breeze and I was in my running shorts.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

Out here the local nine p.m. news sent a reporter outside with a big thermometer to show viewers how cold it was. The reporter had on the coat and the gloves, and held up the thermometer.

It was 64.


Albinoblackbear said...

I remember walking around in a heavy wool sweater and wool hat in Kathmandu when it was in the 90's wondering HOW people weren't freezing to death in their scanty t-shirts...having just come from 7 days on a camel in the Thar desert (seemed like a good idea at the time).

Suppose "cold" really is a relative term! haha

Doctor D said...

Why on earth would human beings voluntarily live in such climates?

ABB, we really need to get you a residency in the US so you can see the sun someday.

Albinoblackbear said...

DocD--I ordered my first USMLE study book this week. It's on.

Truth be told--I actually like the 24h darkness up North better than the 24h daylight.

I am an insomniac at the best of times but 24h sunlight for 2 months straight pretty much kisses any circadian rhythm good bye!