Friday, December 21, 2007

Shortest Day

Today we reach shortest "day" of the year. For the first time since moving to Nunavut 4+ years ago I have the good fortune of being around to witness the event. In past years, I was either leaving the day of or the day before the Winter Solstice. At any rate, I had hoped to get a decent picture but after a span of clear days, it was cloudy with a hint of wind today which put the axe in that plan. Not that it matters all that much. I could just as well take a picture tomorrow and there would be no appreciable difference in the amount of light. All the newbies on staff here marvel at the phenomenon of 24-hour dark. I do my best to play the part of the cagey veteran and pretend not to notice though I think they are catching on. At any rate, we can all look forward to the sun's return around February 6. The sun will rise above the horizon on that date and while I'm not sure if the sun will be visible here in town because of the mountains on the other side of Adams Sound, I can always "cheat" (as I shamelessly did last year) by heading up the bluffs behind town for a sneak peak.

We are now all finished for Christmas Break at the school. This morning we braved the chilly weather by going around town in small groups to sing a few carols to local elders. We visited one of the elders (who comes into our school quite a lot to help out with the cultural program) inside a traditional dwelling called a qammaq. These were traditionally made of earthen walls with a roof of caribou skin or sealskin. Today they are often made of wood as this one was and resemble a small cabin. It was my first time inside one and I regretted not having my camera with me. It was small and cozy. Two qulliit (traditional lamps) kept the interior toasty warm.

After lunch Santa made an appearance to hand out Christmas presents to children. Exams were all finished up in the high school so I did a bit a "getting ready" work for the next semester and helped my younger colleagues supervise the students. Some played games or watched movies and many were undergoing insane sugar highs. But it is that time of year. It was a lot of fun to see all the smiling faces.

Here our principal, er, Santa hands out presents to a class of primary students.