Friday, 8 July 2011

Boredom in the subarctic

Even though we worked a lot, we were inevitably left with free time to be filled. In our first few weeks in particular, when there was no-one else around and not much happening outside so we had to try our hardest to find things to do. Before we were fully settled into subarctic life we kept looking at our watches begging the evening's minutes to speed past. The two boxes of 'Puzzles and games. Do not open' on the shelving unit in the empty reading room sat and taunted us.

We thought we could use our time wisely and learn some new languages. Valerie was keen to brush up on her French and learn some Spanish, while I started to learn a bit of Italian, which of course comes in very handy for world travel... Aided by the BBC website I learnt a little and optimistically made a pile of vocab. cards. In the end it seems I found other things to do, although Valerie persevered and started reading a Swedish book in French (in the subarctic).

Valerie was eternally worried that the subarctic lifestyle would leave us obese (particularly when Rob arrived and started cooking enormous quantities of food). We tried a cardio kickboxing session off youtube, but Valerie's co-ordination was lacking. We ran up and down the corridors, although we couldn't do this with such ease when the researchers started arriving. But we did always run down the arctic hallway (the hallway between the dorms and the rest of the building) because it was so cold in there.

It wasn't long before we found our exercise solution of constitutionalising. This involved zig-zagging down the road in front of the studies centre and then zig-zagging back, with the occasional bit of beam work on the telegraph pole lying at the roadside. We weren't allowed far down the road, due to the risk of being gobbled by a polar bear so we had to make the most of that short distance. Our strange behaviour probably caused more than the odd chuckle, but we like to think we started a trend. Sometimes a researcher would accompany us to see if the rumour about our strange behaviour was true. Clifford the maintenance man obviously hadn't heard the rumour and stopped his car to ask if we'd lost something. Matt (the laddie, student/staff) got some of the researchers to start cycling in a zig zag fashion and over time we even noticed that the geese were zig-zagging along launch road too.

Our inventiveness was at it's peak in the first days and we made ourselves Inukshuks out of ice and a CNSC birdfish out of stones. We looked at the Inukshuks as the sunset and saw them over the next few days.

Dressing up in an interesting range of garments also seemed to pass the time. I'd found myself a 'toque' on the tundra and wore it with pride, alongside Valerie in her pink one. Together we looked like a pair of wombles. This led to us (or mainly me) listening to the wombles song on youtube, whistling it and we were at one point caught in the act of bopping to it. Poor Canadians (and Americans), didn't know what had hit them!

One day we showed pity for the pile of unwanted clothes in the upstairs dorm rooms and Valerie wondered if she'd found herself an outfit for the wedding she's going to in Ontario.

When Rob arrived we had thought he'd be able to teach us to play pool and darts. After one evening we'd realised that this was in fact a mission impossible. Valerie managed to get her dart right in the middle. No, not the bull's eye, the eye wash station. And she thinks we should go to some place in Scotland and learn knife throwing...

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