When my moms eyes lit up as she walked off of the airplane, it lit my soul on fire, drowning me in the reminders of my landing in Iqaluit. Everything she sees excites her and every day she experiences half a dozen "firsts," every single one, just as exciting as the last. The feelings I experienced when I first arrived in my arctic home, came rushing back to me. The things she said to me made me smile. She said she felt as though she was 'landing on the moon', describing her landing here as surreal.
Most of the emotions I felt when I arrived here have been buried under the experience of my day to day life. I thought it would be wonderful to dig up those old feelings, my mom, Lisa, has agreed to write the rest of this blog with her very fresh perspective. Enjoy.
It all started in the Ottawa airport with the 40 minute de-icing process, first we were covered in a pink foam, then they coated the plane with green slime. The young man beside me said, "We've been slimed, just like in Ghost Busters." His name was Nick and he has been living up here for several years. I met a lot of very nice people on the trip up on Canadian North. We were loaded into the back end of the plane, separated by a partition, everything else was loaded up front. We had stickers stuck onto our tickets that said, "Landing subject to Weather," warning us that they would not provide any services if this happened. 'So,' i thought, 'what happens now?'....This did nothing to help with the nerves. As we flew, there were a couple of turbulent moments, I was okay though. When I noticed that the landscape had changed, my face was plastered to the little oval window, my camera clicking fast....it was AMAZING!! White,white and more white with little dips and lines in the snow scape, all I could think was ..'wow this is sooooo beautiful!' I truly felt like I was flying over the white moon, there was nothing, no poles, no buildings, no roads...nothing!! I felt like I was heading to another planet, we couldn't really still be in Canada. The flight was approximately 3 hours long, though it went by fast. Then we started the landing process, I could not believe I was actually here and I still couldnt see anything, then I saw the bridge that Melissa has taken pictures `planking' on. I then thought, 'I`m here, actually here!'
I was greeted at the little Yellow airport by gusty cold snowy winds that took my breath away, little did I know I was being watched by Melissa and Katie both watching for my reaction from a window of the airport. I saw them as I climbed the stairs in the tiny airport, greetings, hugging, kissing my daughter and her best friend with huge smiles on their faces, I was really here. It was so very nice to hold Melissa again and tell her how much I loved her. We would be celebrating both Christmas and new years 2012 together! I was really here, sorry, but that feeling lasted awhile...I WAS REALLY HERE!! The airport was full of families getting together for the holidays. Happy people were greeting other happy people all around me, they wore furs and large coats and sealskin boots and had babies attached to hoods on their backs I felt like I was in a different world, not Canada. They quickly hustled me out to the waiting pick-up truck and threw my luggage in the back of the snow filled bed. Katie crawled in the backseat and we were off down gravel and snow filled streets. I noticed buildings on stilts and lots of colourful wooden buildings and houses. I felt out of touch with reality like I had arrived in a foreign country.
I have adjusted and I feel like I have arrived in Gods Country, the most awe inspiring, beautiful, breathtaking, stand still and don`t move feeling. The sunrises and sunsets are the most beautiful I have ever experienced. I could stand and watch for hours but I`d freeze. Each day while Melissa goes to work I roam Iqaluit, climbing the hills, scouring the waters edge, everyday I see something new and wondrous. I can`t seem to take enough photos, desperately trying to capture this phenomenal land. I really can`t even explain the feeling.
The people of Iqaluit have been very welcoming, some, life long residents, others, people from the south who have fallen in love with the North. I had the honour of meeting Miss Kitty as well as Polar Man on my travels through town. Life is interesting in Iqaluit, a slower pace and close knit friendships.
Lisa and the Northern Lights
While wandering the town the cold creeps in quickly, Katie gave me an amazing gift of a pair of seal skin and fox mittens they are beautiful and I will treasure them, I purchased a fox fur to replace the fake fur on my collar, I now know why they dress this way, what a difference. Now I can wander until my toes grow cold or the sun sets. Tomorrow Melissa and are going on a 4 hour dog sledding adventure, I can't wait. So far this has been an amazing experience, spending time with my daughter and her northern gypsy friends in the great white north.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of walking into the GTA's shopping malls after they've been decked with huge Christmas trees and decorative ornaments. I remember as a child, going into the malls, packed with people. I remember the hustle and bustle of running between stores with a shopping check list in my mind. I always hated the suffocation of the crowds but I loved the music and the beautiful shiny, spirit filled decor.
Christmas in Iqaluit is different. Maybe it's only because I've left childhood behind. It's different but its wonderful. This year we've had festivities around every corner, mapped out by an enormous calendar I made that is hanging from the ceiling in the store.
It started with the one year anniversary of Tim Hortons in Iqaluit opening. It feels like just last week that we were sent down South for training. This last year has been incredible, hard but incredible. I decorated a cake in twenty minutes and cut it up for all of our customers. With the restaurant decked out in streamers and balloons, Katie and I talked about the trials and triumphs of the last year.
Santa came by Northmart before Christmas, he stops here first because we're so close to the North Pole. We handed Dryden and Shemekia over to him... they didn't exactly enjoy his visit.
December also held Northmart's famous balloon drop. With most of the balloons holding tags for free prizes, the anticipation was high and the fight for everyone to get their hands on one was very fun to watch. I stood back with my camera and recorded the fall.
This year I wanted to be a part of Iqaluit's Santa Claus parade. We took two ATV's, the big red side by side and one skidoo, which we strapped onto a trailer. We drove all of the toys down to one of our warehouses and decorated them before joining in on the parade. I rode on the skidoo, sacrificing the ATV so Collin could join in on the fun too.
My purpose in the parade was to be Northmart's Price Blaster. I threw candy to the kids on the side of the road. The parade was nothing like the ones I remember down South. The floats are small scale and there are no crowds in comparison to the streets lined with people for parades in Ontario.