Monday May 29, 2017

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Letter from Cambridge Bay

My last Arctic blizzard (or so I hope)

Or why being snowed in your home with your lover for three days is less ‘50 Shades of Grey’ than it is one shade of blah
Snow springs eternal

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The following is the first part of a two-part story written by solicitor, singer and Nunavut transplant Gloria Song.

March 18

Saturday teased us with a minor storm, but by Sunday night, there was a warning up about an upcoming blizzard due to hit a big chunk of the territory. As we went to bed, we kept looking out the window, wondering if it was really going to come. It seemed so calm and clear outside.

Sure enough, the blizzard did hit overnight. On Monday morning, we woke up to howling winds gusting to 100km/h, a windchill of -50 and near zero visibility. Once again, all government offices, schools  and many of the major businesses were closed. It was a blizzard day! And what’s more, the weather forecast predicted that the blizzard was going to last until later Wednesday morning. 

Photo gallery: Cambridge Bay gets whalloped

The municipal government of Cambridge Bay advised us to conserve water, so no washing dishes, no doing laundry, no flushing the toilet and no showers, because if we ran out of water, we weren’t going to get any more water provisions until Wednesday morning.

But conserving water is a lot harder to do when you’ve got the stomach flu. You can’t not flush the toilet. And eventually, a hot bath would do some healing wonders. But ... all of that requires water.

Some of my friends from down south tell me that it’s been a fantasy of theirs to be snowbound in an isolated cabin with a lover. How romantic it would be to spend the night together, with only each other for company, keeping each other warm. Like right out of a romance novel.

Let me tell you now, it’s a myth. Sure, it’s pretty awe-inspiring to watch the blowing snow. But going days without washing will make you less eager to hold your partner in your arms. Watching TV on separate couches on opposite sides of the room seems more desirable. And you can only inspire so much romance after yet another day of wiping yourself down with Wet Ones. It was bad enough that I had to trek through the blizzard in search of toilet paper.

So I ended up spending three hours melting snow to draw a bath. This was quite the process. I have no idea how people did this during the olden days. First I had to go out into the 100km/h gusts of winds to gather up the snow into as many large basins I could find. Then I had to melt it all on the stove. That’s where you realize just how dirty snow is. Leafs, grass, animal fur, and even dead mosquitoes from the summer. It doesn’t help that I suspect Rob has been using that snowbank as an ashtray. The process took forever, and I didn’t even end up filling up the tub halfway. Also, it felt as though you’d actually come out of the tub dirtier than when you went in because of all the animal fur that was in the snow.

It was such an annoying process that I decided I wouldn’t do it again the next day. My plan was to trek through the blizzard to go into town to buy water and then haul it back home on a sled.

Unfortunately, the next day the blizzard had gotten worse. You couldn’t see the houses across the street. There was no way I was going to be able to make it into town, and even if I could, the weather was now so bad that even the stores had closed – and that’s something, because the stores rarely closed.

Looks like it was going to be another day of watching Netflix and not showering.

It was amazing to see the difference between the first day’s blizzard and the second.

We settled in for the night. The blizzard was going to continue for a third day ...

Read the conclusion of Ms Song’s Letter from Nunavut tomorrow.

Read our previous articles about Ms Song and her Scary Bear Soundtrack Music act.

All photos: Gloria Song