Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Walking Past the Summer Solstice

Every thirteen days darkness takes an hour of light from Pangnirtung. The slide toward the arctic night has started and the change is quick since 24 hours of daylight must be shed before the winter solstice. I’m subtly bothered by the change, like I’ve left the house and forgotten something, but can’t remember what.

Although the light is changing quickly, the days have a routine. Once a week I walk into town to pick up mail and buy groceries.

On the way I see a few handsome sled dogs.

But mostly I see short-legged, hard-working mutts.

Kids don't seem to frequent the school grounds during the summer.

Instead, the young ones play in the empty spaces between the houses. Private yard space defined by sidewalks, lawn edges and fences does not exist; kids play under any window and adults cut through any yard to make the shortest path to their destinations.

Older girls and boys run in separate groups. The girls do not look at me or speak to me, but the boys are a different story. A pack of boys shot a hole in my living room window with a BB gun. When I spoke to them, they seemed surprised that aiming a gun at a house could have a consequence. Another pack thought it would fun to throw stones at me while I was working at the bottom of a rock slide. They did not realize that throwing stones from a 150 feet above the target significantly improves the velocity. The stones hit like bullets near my head! I stormed up the cliff and scared the crap out of them. They apologized and sped off on small bikes. Later, I saw them in town, where they cheerfully said, "hello" and politely introduced themselves. (The boys in the photograph above where not involved in the BB gun or rock throwing incidents. They are just nice friendly kids who let me take their picture.)

During the weekday, downtown is noisy with four wheelers outside the post office.

And the store, where I bought a sweet potato for $8.00.

But after the store closes, downtown is very quiet.

Very quiet.

But there are a few diversions, like the remains of the Hudson Bay Company, “Old Blubber Station”, where whales were rendered for oil at the turn of the 20th century.

Or watching the large tides rise and fall twice a day.

And seeing the harbor turn into the beach.

It’s also fun to watch the Sea Lift, which visits only once a year, unload food, gas, plywood, sinks, cars, carpets and clothes.

But the best thing to see on a walk through Pangnirtung is the view from the north end of town, where the mountains suggest an enormous circle like the sun balanced on the horizon just about to set.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is so fascinating. Beautiful photos. The contrast of majestic beauty and the hardscrabble life of its inhabitants. Glad you are teaching the boys a think or two!
JGR

Katie (Fogg) Kinnell '00 said...

Professor Glier,

It has been years, but I came across the link to your blog from an alumni email. What a journey you are on! Such incredible paintings, photographs (Lili's photographs were quite magical), and descriptions. There is such a raw grittiness to the landscape that goes hand in hand with the subtle beauty you have shown. I am looking forward to more.

Katie (Fogg) Kinnell '00

I was thinking about our Survey of Contemporary Art class just today when I heard that Elizabth Murray had died. That course has stuck with me through the years...

Sarah said...

I hope you take some more pictures of the Hudson Bay Co. whaling station. And I enjoy your observations of things like, where the kids play.

Re: $8 sweet potato: In Newfoundland 25 years ago, my parents bought two oranges and a head of lettuce for some similarly vast sum. It was all the fruits and vegetables this one particular fishing town had for the entire week.

Now that I'm an adult I always forget how obnoxious boys can be. Yick.

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