Thursday Tidbits

Posted on December 12, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Early morning sunrise special


The early bird gets the worm… most of the time.

I am a notoriously early riser. My internal alarm clock, which has been working efficiently for some 68 years, has me on the go most days at 5:30 a.m. It has always been a special time of the day for me. You nighthawks out there probably feel the same way. You like to stay up late into the night reading or catching a late sporting event or one of the numerous late night talk shows. I’m afraid I missed the Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno era.  Colbert, Fallon and Kimmel might as well be a law firm. The only time I can remember being up that late was sitting in outpatients at the hospital.

I think it is the tranquility of the early morning that most attracts me. The hustle and bustle of life is still buried in the blankets for most of the population. I particularly like to be outdoors at the crack of dawn to greet a new day. For the better part of seven months of the year, the chatter of birds in the trees is a welcome sound. Walking or running the back roads puts you in touch with nature and every sunrise is a spiritual experience.

This is all well and good unless you’re heading off to school at 7:00 a.m. when the temperature is -40 and the wind speed is a nifty 97 km an hour. If there were birds chattering, I couldn’t hear them over the din and roar of a winter storm.

Such was the case this past Monday. My apartment was shaking when I got out of bed that morning. I went through my usual routine of coffee and journal writing at 5:30 and then bundled up for the short ten minute trek to school. The school is down by the bay and the wind was coming off the water. In other words, I was walking straight into the teeth of a gale. A light snow was falling creating whiteouts. Visibility was very poor. The roads are well maintained but because of the snow and cold, the surfaces are hard packed. You could literally skate on them.

I was buffeted by the high winds but had no trouble getting to the school. With my Michelin man attire, I wasn’t the least bit cold upon arrival.

I started working on my lesson plans for the day. At 7:30 the familiar sound of a Messenger ping alerted me. Because of the cold temperatures and extremely high winds, school had been cancelled for the morning. I was both surprised and not surprised. I had been led to believe that only a furnace breakdown or a polar bear sighting was grounds for calling off school. I didn’t notice any polar bears on my way to school but mind you, I had my head down the entire way. It was simply too dangerous to have young children (and old farts!) walking in these conditions. At noon, with sustained winds nearing 100 km an hour at the airport, the decision was made to cancel the rest of the day.

Here is the existential question of the day:  On a storm day, who is happier, the students or the teachers? After four and a half months of school, the answer should be obvious!

Most of us are spiritual beings which doesn’t necessarily mean we’re religious. My halo is dented and quite tarnished. I am interested in the worship practices of different cultures and religions and often take the opportunity to attend a service. When traveling in a foreign country, I don’t expect to understand what is being said at a church service. I go to observe and see if I can pick up the vibe.

So it was that I decided to attend Sunday service at one of the two churches here in Kangiqsujuaq. It was bitterly cold last Sunday. It’s always cold here so I guess this statement is now officially redundant. I entered a rather non-descript building with a simple cross adorning the door. The building was L-shaped. I was met by a husband and wife team who run the service. They greeted me warmly. At this point, I was just in the hallway leading to the main worship room. When I turned the corner of the L, I stood in amazement.

The room had several rows of chairs and an elevated stage. It was beautifully decorated for the Christmas season. I blinked twice. Besides the podium for the preacher and a small electric piano in the corner, the remainder of the stage was full of musical equipment. I expected Mick Jagger to magically appear from the rafters. There were several acoustic guitars, a bass guitar and a drum kit befitting Charlie Watts. (The drummer for the Rolling Stones). There were numerous microphones, monitors and a handful of Peavey amps that could light up the Air Canada Centre. Sadly, on this day, neither the Stones nor the house band were in attendance. I casually mentioned that I played guitar and sang in a church choir for 40 years. I have been invited to play at next Sunday’s service. They didn’t ask me to preach!

The service started with a handful of hymns sung in Inuktitut. The soloist used some old fashioned but practical technology. He employed an old overhead projector and all the music was on those big plastic slides similar to the ones we used back in the 60s.

The preacher of the duo was the female. I just had a hunch that I could be in for a long session. I remember a service in India where the preacher talked for 2 full hours. The only word I understood was “hallelujah” which he repeated at least 150 times. She was just getting a head of steam going when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone handed me a headset and a power pack. Presto! I now had simultaneous translation.

Mick Jagger AND simultaneous translation. Who would have thunk? When the service ended, I went to the back of the room to meet the translator who spoke flawless English. I was once again astounded to see a sound mixing board that rivalled anything I had ever seen. It looked like a recording studio.

As I was leaving, the conveners met me to thank me for coming. The preacher mentioned a musical night they were planning later in December… the day before I was planning to fly home. She “suggested” that I come and perform. I took it as more than a suggestion.

This non-descript building provided many surprises.

Never judge a book by its cover.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. There aren’t a lot of worm sightings in the Arctic in mid- December!

Highland Hearing Clinic

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