Friday, February 27, 2009

From Tundra to Pavement! The Arctic

Before the chaos and excitement of reviews and giveaways are underway I thought it best to blog a bit about my experiences and my family. Maybe my blog title should really be derived from the title of this post!

Almost three years ago, though it seems only a brief flash of time, we moved from tundra to pavement. My husband and I had lived much of our adult lives in the Canadian arctic. Eight years of life in tiny fly-in communities in a treeless land where the winters were long and dark, the summers glorious but short lived and bright with the midnight sun! Perhaps to most it sounds...well...crazy to live in such a isolated place by choice. Probably to many it sounds like a horrible existence and maybe...just maybe to others it sounds exotic, adventurous, and wildly beautiful. To us it became home!

We raised our three children from babies there until our eldest was five years old. In the arctic you become very close to the friends and aquaintances you make. People become family very quickly and tend to rely closely upon one another--especially those like us transplanted to the north from some southern clime--for everything. I have honestly felt more isolated since leaving than I did while I lived there. Though we were the minority the Inuit are a friendly people and most made us feel very much at home and comfortable. I think the first "home" in which you create your family is always so precious. It binds you to a place almost indefinitely and it makes it very difficult to part from.

But three years ago we did just that. My husband decided to change careers and I supported him in his decision.Before I knew it and perhaps before I was ready, I found myself back in a world of pavement. I felt it to be a very foreign world. "Bushwacked" may be an apt word to describe my condition. We moved to a fairly large southern city and my husband had to be away to train for his new position. I found myself alone with three children in an unfamiliar landscape. It was a huge learning curve! I had to re-learn to drive in a city with paved, multi-lane streets, actual street signs, lights, and traffic! Though there are a handful of trucks in arctic communities most people drive ATVs and snowmobiles and I'd say two vehicles stopped at one of the three stop signs in town would constitute a traffic jam!

Though this sounds ridiculous I also needed to re-learn how to shop! To be honest grocery shopping was not exactly the same. We ordered dry and canned goods, and paper products in bulk for the entire year on the barge which came in the late summer/early fall. Fresh produce was often ordered every week or two from Yellowknife to be shipping up on the plane or could be purchased at the local store with other odds and ends with little selection and often outrageous prices. Shopping in the south made my head spin. I literally felt overwhelmed by the seemingly endless shelves of items and the crowds of strangers weaving in and out of aisles, dodging the shopping carts of others doing the same! I suffered great anxiety! The communities we inhabited in the north sported one or two very small stores--a "Co-op" and sometimes a "Northern". Shopping was often a social event. You were always meeting people you knew because you knew everyone. I was never shopping in a sea of strangers.

Once internet became common and online shopping was popularized shopping from home the options became almost limitless! I am no stranger then to online shopping and have great affection for the online stores that provides possibilities to me even on the northern tundra and provided secure shopping for me trapped alone in an ocean of concrete and pavement in the "big" city!Lucky for me, my husband is no longer training, we live in a small community outside the city, and I can finally start to enjoy the opportunities my new lifestyle can afford me! I will however never forget the memories forged in the land of the midnight sun and may return there some day!
Labels: The Arctic

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