White Girl: Playing games

White Girl: Playing games

There is a minimal tide on this frozen coast.

April is a grand month for sliding. Sunshine warms the surface of the snow and ice glazes road surfaces and drifts of snow that have banked up during the long winter of whiteouts. There is no such thing as a fall season when you live without trees that have leaves to fall. There is freeze-up.

Boats and some motors (also known in the North as kickers) are hauled up on the pebble beach of the Arctic Ocean at this freeze-up time and left for spring thaw-out time. For everything there is a time and a season.

I have seen boats hauled on Komatiks in the spring when there is danger of falling through the ice. A Komatik is a sled that is pulled behind the Ski-doo with a 12 to 20-foot lead line. A person could survive by at least jumping into the boat tied onto the sled if your Ski-doo breaks through the sea ice.

Humps of hulls are apparent under the snow and God help whoever did not remove their kicker and properly put it to bed for the winter, somewhere else. A kicker cover is the perfect apparatus for sliding down anything! Hills with rocks and ice and of course, the school steps.

Being dragged behind a Ski-doo with your butt stuck in one of these lids doing 20 m.p.h. without control is the absolute most fun! With kid-sized butts being a perfect fit in these “borrowed” caps, we scrabble back up the hills imitating hermit crabs on southern beaches. There are only a few of these gems to be had. If we unattached our backsides for a second, it will become someone else’s property.

Those pitiful kids without kicker caps are left to carry around pieces of waxy cardboard to slide with. The cardboard chunks offer no protection from rocks and other sharp objects. The cardboard gets smaller and smaller…

Snow blindness is real; there are no sunglasses to be had. We are a motley crew with our butts stuck in kicker covers and eyes covered in wrap-around hand carved goggles known in Inuktitut as ggaak. Styles of ggaak vary according to the carver and the piece of wood that chance has provided high above the tree line.

My cool shades are two separate pieces of wood, round and of a size that they fit perfectly over my eyes and nestle into my eye sockets.  Slits have been cut into these oval pods to allow for sight. The two eye pods are connected across my nose with a leather caribou thong. The ties that go around my head and are tied in the back are also leather thongs. They stretch if they get wet.

To be continued

Northern Journal

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