Saturday 4 December 2021

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Eleven

The photos are of our boxes that finally arrived in Montreal over a week ago. Hard to believe that they are finally here (“here” being a very relative term) and more shockingly, seemingly intact. Of course once we unpeel them from their protective wrap of cardboard we’ll really know the end of the story. Still 180 days later there they are and our sense of eager anticipation is there as well, trust me.

Yesterday I wrapped up my 37th day working at the COVID testing clinic. It was established there near Hallowe’en and quite frankly I do not know when it will leave. The conundrum of the need to get information to better fight the virus invasion bumping up into the deeply rooted suspicions of the community against bureaucracy and seemingly obvious logic is really baffling. Of course I am speaking from the position of an outsider who has been here all of four months or so; what do I know? What I have seen is a combination of desperation, fatalism, dark humor, sadness, resignation, defeat. The scene yesterday, when a father, with multiple young children, so tired and frustrated that he could not remember his children’s birthdays, really hit home. I helped that dad carry one of his kids yesterday - that little guy’s look of fear/sadness will stay with me for quite some time. At least he did not cry.

There is a reason I longingly look at my daughter when I come home at night; her sweetness reminds me of why I am doing this. In an effort to make a difference, to help, has taken its toll, no question. I am this close to calling it quits and retreating to our bedroom. 

I know, I know: I won’t but man, it is so very tempting. 

One thing that might keep me away from Day 38 on this Sunday is the weather. Today we had our first official windchill/frostbite warning; more scheduled for tomorrow. Other than the trudging through the snowfall we have had (“Good Cardio!”, as I wheeze and waddle my way through the drifts) it really hasn’t been that cold. I mean I have found a way to manage it, multiple layers and forget glasses, wear goggles instead. I still have these little air leaks in and around my face which I haven’t figured out (balaclava here I come) and this curious cold spot, about the size of a football that appears between my shoulder blades - weird. We’ll figure it out, although I don’t think we’ll be venturing outside today.

When I was a teenager I can remember my mom getting angry with all the local folks whizzing by our house, across our lawn with their snowmobiles. Loud, whining, annoying as fuck. Well, here in Salluit, some 50 years later, you’ve still got snowmobiles: bigger, faster, louder. And folks doing do-nuts on their four wheelers up and down our street. Madness, but what else can a young person do - no school , no recreation center, no hockey rink, no pool… spinning in circles seems just about right. And the patterns they leave on the streets - now slick like ice, but cut with spaced lines - like the lines at Nazca: primitive, primordial.

We passed the beginning of Hanukkah on the 28th, reminding me that there are many more things like that to happen in the coming weeks. Be safe, be kind, hug your loved ones everyday, ok?

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Seventeen

So, back to writing again. New position at the school has me writing a lot more than I am used to, so keyboard time is preoccupied with that...