Sunday March 13

The relaxed pace of last night spills over into the morning. While George makes tea and coffee for everyone, I hop in the shower, hoping that after 4 people, the water will last until the next delivery (every day except today, Sunday and Wednesdays). After leftover pizza (even better the next day), I head out into town, to stretch my legs. Its pretty quiet, with not even a dog yapping. A white skin, drying on a wood frame, dazzles in the morning sun, a huge beast of polar bear. A slight morning haze clears by noon and the three of us decide to ski.

Pitsiula graciously offers to act as tour guide (I suspect that there has been some talk in town about southern whities and their hopelessly inadequate ways). Well, no one wants us to get lost. It’s so cold, there will be virtually no glide to my cross country skis thus I decide to walk instead. I can’t help but compared our gear (skinny fiber glass skis, all the latest high tech winter clothing) with Pitsiula’s (steel edged skies, bamboo poles, home made bindings, denim jeans, and bomber jacket). He’s very proficient, demonstrating ski skating with those heavy clunkers: I’m impressed.

The weather is picture perfect, the scenery awesome. Frozen lakes, up some hills for great lookouts and vantage points. Walking is a cinch, especially uphill. Overheating, my sunglasses fog up, I squint from the harsh white light, breath coming out in white clouds of steam. The movement of pale dots, caribou feeding, specs only, in the distance. With a yelp, the others gain speed, skiing down hill, quickly outdistancing me. Turning my back, I follow their line of descent into a bowl of snowy valley, cupped by steep sided hills.

There are so many new and different things to see! I watch people cutting ice blocks from frozen lakes. More caribou carcasses, stiff legged, hooves that will drum the land no more. A snow mobile carcass, abandoned, its skeletal remains only, stripped of salvageable parts. Stone cairns, inukshuks of various sizes and shapes note my passing as I wave to them. Boats, waiting summers waters, lie sleeping on their icy bed.

The end of another exhilarating day…Pascal has made muffins and caribou stew for dinner. Pitsiula comes over with some of his carvings, birds about to take off, precariously balanced on two slim feet, lumpy walruses, necks swiveled and craned, bloodshot eyes bulging. I’m entranced.

…another early night, physically drained by the skiing and brain exhausted by the continuous processing of so much new.