Thursday Tidbits

Posted on August 27, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Nourishment for body and soul


What does it mean to belong?

There are a handful of you (you know who you are!) who have read just about every one of my 1,140 posts over the past nine years. First of all, let me extend my condolences to you for putting up with me all these years. Some of you may not know this (or care) but when I first discovered that I enjoyed writing, my stories were exclusively humour. I wrote a regular column for three newspapers. One of these papers was owned by our largest provincial paper and many of my stories were shared throughout the province. And what, pray tell, is your point, Len?

I would say that over 90% of the stories that I’ve written have been purely for entertainment. There are lots of places one can go to load up on bad news and negativity. You won’t find much of this on my website. Every once in a while, I’ll drift into something more serious, even controversial but that’s a rarity.

“Where is he going with this?” I’m sure you’re wondering.

When I came up north last November, I came to teach. That was in my contract, but I also came to learn. I am a big fan of lifelong learning.

Most of you will never get to see Canada’s north. It is expensive to travel up here and for many of you, spending quality time in a place where temperatures can drop to -55, is not your idea of a cool time. Well, I have a hot tip for you. You can learn about the north vicariously from the comfort of your living room. A few simple clicks on your favorite electronic devices and you get to hang out with me. I’m sure that that sounds like penance to some of you.

I’m not about to lose my sense of humor and go all serious on you but I do plan to continue to share what I’m learning, as I am experiencing it. Many of my future posts will be to inform and educate.

What constitutes an extraordinary day for you? It could be getting a promotion and a raise at work. You might have just retired or sold your house. You may have experienced the unmitigated joy of the birth of your first grandchild. You may have received roses from a secret admirer. A special day means something different to everyone.

Monday was one of those days for me.

Can someone describe what it feels like to belong? It’s really hard to put into words but I’m going to try.

I have lived in small communities before. My first real taste of belonging came in the North Peace Alberta town of Fairview. This is a farming community and a large part of the population are people who trace their roots to Germany and the Ukraine. I certainly felt like an outsider there during my first year of teaching but when I returned for year two, I detected a subtle shift in attitude by the locals. I had paid some dues and I had returned. I learned how to operate some of the farming equipment and sang in the church choir. More importantly, in a community where hockey is king, playing for the Fairview Elks Senior hockey team was the clincher.

I came to Kangiqsujuaq last November. As I have stated, ad nauseum in this space before, I was far too overwhelmed to have any sense of community. My reintroduction to teaching consumed every waking hour of my days and infiltrated my sleep at night. I didn’t get involved in the community. I wasn’t worrying about being accepted. I was more focused on surviving the next day at school. Survival is an important life skill.

Covid entered our lives in March. I went home. I self-isolated. I walked and hiked daily with my son. I wrote a new book. On August 1st, I returned to Kangisqsujuaq and quarantined for a second time. I emerged from my cocoon on the 15th. In a very short period of time, things felt different. Yes, an 80- degree difference in temperature from the dead of winter to mid -summer will do that to a person! From my first trip to the Coop for groceries, I felt welcome. I was greeted by the cashiers like I was a long- lost friend. I was repeatedly stopped in the aisles by people who thanked me for coming back. Every day, walking to and from my apartment, young children shouted “Hi Len”.

“You’re drifting, Len. What in the hell happened on Monday to set you off on this wild tangent?”

In rapid succession on Monday, it seemed like everything clicked. It was a series of “aha” moments, something like you might have felt when you finally discovered how to ride a two -wheel bicycle without tipping over. I received my first invitation to go hunting. This is a big deal. This is an honor. People don’t hunt for sport up here. It is a way of life. “Country food” is every bit as important to the Inuit as oxygen.

After a very busy and productive day (I’ll spare you the boring details) and a beautiful, albeit very chilly evening walk, I was stopped just outside my apartment and given a serving of vegetarian chili. A few minutes later, my next door neighbor produced two fresh, warm blueberry banana muffins. The berries were picked across the street on the tundra, just a few paces from my front door.

I was barely in the door when I heard a knock. A local man was holding a bag filled with several different cuts of caribou that his son had shot on the weekend. He described each piece of meat. He gave me cooking tips for the roast and the stewing meat. He promised that I would be receiving arctic char in the not too distant future.

This, my friends, it what it feels like to belong in the north. It is easy to describe but an indescribable feeling.

Have a great week.

P.S. I’ll let you know how my caribou roast turns out!

Enjoy this? Visit the rest of my website to enjoy more of my work or buy my books!
Tri Mac Toyota!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


One Response to Thursday Tidbits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.