Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fifty things I'll miss

Today, I saw my friend R off.  He presented me with a beautiful polar bear packing doll.  The doll is perfect in every way, with flawless stitches and a beautiful amauti (parka). It's the most extravagant gift I've gotten from someone not in my immediate family.  It's really too, too much.  I had been yearning for a packing doll, proclaiming that it was the one northern craft that I wanted to purchase before leaving.  R knew that I would never buy one for myself, so, in typical generous R fashion, he bought it to surprise me.

I want to remember all the little things in Inuvik, the way the snow looks when it drifts in front of the streetlamps, the songs and dances and drums, the footprints of various wildlife, everything....  First and foremost, I'm going to miss my friends.  I want to make a list of things that I'll miss when I leave and venture onto the next chapter of my life.  Here are fifty things, in random order.  I'm sure I can come up with fifty more in a heartbeat.  I didn't put my friends or my jobs as items on my list because emotionally, they could never be reduced to individual items on a list of fifty.  They are the core of this whole northern experience, the main planet around which these fifty peripheral things revolve.

1. The brief but most beautiful fall colours
2. The muffled sound of tires on snow
3. Snowmobiling
4. The aurora borealis, those eerie, awe-inspiring lights
5. Drum-dancing
6. Wearing my beaver fur mitts
7. Catching the first sunrise of the year
8. The parades
9. Muskrat Jamboree
10. Community feasts
11. Showing up at people’s houses unannounced
12. People showing up at my house unannounced
13. Walks down by the river
14. The ice-road
15. The short walks to and from work
16. Meeting friends and acquaintances everywhere
17. Flying my kites
18. The stories of elders
19. The traditional clothing
20. The ravens
21. The dogs that follow me around town
22. The café
23. The impromptu supper get-togethers
24. The midnight sun in the summer
25. Running down to the store for slushies in the midnight sun
26. Watching northern games
27. The community band
28. The community greenhouse
29. Classes in traditional crafts
30. Old time dances
31. Boot Lake trail
32. Walking the bypass
33. Traditional food (caribou, muskox, “Eskimo doughnuts”)
34. Fishing trips
35. Drives on the Dempster Highway
36. The wildflowers in spring and summer
37. The library with no waitlist for books I want to read
38. The beautiful swimming pool and waterslide
39. Trying to be part of a curling team
40. Free ice-skating
41. Watching community baseball games
42. The wide-open sky
43. The occasional blizzard
44. Watching the ice break-up on the Mackenzie
45. Dog-sledding
46. Barbecues in the campgrounds
47. Nachos and martinis at Shivers
48. Games night
49. Knowing all the cashiers at the stores
50. The colourful rowhouses

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