?

Log in

Coming January 2015, from Intellect Books and University of Chicago Press

dramaturging personal narrativesfinal

In process...a book that includes some of the work done during the four years of the Common Plants project.

havanastaircaseamber

Coming soon...

Posted on 2012.01.23 at 09:37
More Common Plants info coming soon!

havanastaircaseamber

Africa

Posted on 2008.08.07 at 10:26
A longer version of this entry, with extensive photography, can be viewed on the “Sites and Sounds” page.

August 1st 2008
Molopo Kalahari Lodge, Northern Cape, South Africa

I’m sitting in the long shadows of the late afternoon sun in the Northern Cape. En route to the Kalahari Desert, we’ve stopped 190 km north of the metropolis of Upington where the tiny propeller plane landed. This is the principal city of the Green Kalahari, located on the banks of the massive Orange River, and we’re staying at Molopo Kalahari Lodge near Askham. Askham is made up of a township, a gas station, a small market, a tuck shop and a liquor store. Molopo Lodge was one of the production bases for the “The Gods Are Crazy” (1981) the famous movie about how a cola bottle changes the lives of a group of Bushmen forever. Reading about the effects of this lodge in an anthropology text, I was disappointed to realize that this place has, in so many ways, changed this area forever. It is reminiscent of the adverse affects of trading posts and their intrusion into First Nations territory and culture in Canada, bringing liquor, processed foods, goods that are tempting but not necessities and creating a consumerist frenzy. I highly recommend Professor Keyan Tomaselli’s book Where Global Contradictions are Sharpest: Research Stories from the Kalahari. Savusa Series, Rozenberg Publishers, Amsterdam 2005, for a highly accessible, well-documented elaborate discussion of this and other relevant occurances.

We’re on a Roots/Routes Journey to Home with Geoff Hyland and heading to a remote Kalahari location in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that sprawls across both northern South Africa and Botwsana. 3.7 million hectares in size, this conservation area is an amalgamation of the former South African Kalahari Gemsbok Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. (In English, gemsbok are called oryx). The Park also borders on Namibia.

This park, home to many species of raptors, black-maned lions found nowhere else, cheetah, leopard and huge herds of gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and eland, is also the home of the Mier and San people: Africa’s First People, also referred to as the Bushmen. Bushmen is now a term considered politically insensitive but in an odd error in translation, the word that is in current acceptable usage, the San people, translates into English from a Nama word as The Bandit. Saa, in the same language, means “to pick things up/to forage.” Oops.

As we work with Geoff on his exploration of home (predominantly *what* is home) we are moving towards the place where humankind existed tens of millions of years ago. Where do we come from? Who are we? Who are we and *who* is *we*? Geoff is seeking the path to the heart, to his heart. What better place than a lodge called !Xaus which is “heart” in the Bushmen’s language. (The exclamation mark represents a palatal click in the Bushmen language. Otherwise the word is pronounced "Kaus")

We’ll be staying, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, at a remote location overlooking a huge dry pan (or dry river bed) with accommodation for 24 people in 12 cabins. Water and electricity are rationed. The food is prepared according to tradition by our hosts, the Mier people. This park is one of the only ones I know of in South Africa that is owned and run by indigenous people on their own land. Though the lodge we are in is owned by non-indigenous people, we will be, in essence, guests of the indigenous population. How does this work?

This part of the gigantic park is divided into segments, called “contract parks”. There are three of these contract parks owned, respectively, by the Mier people, the San/Bushmen and the South African National Parks. Any profit made in any of the three areas is shared and distributed by the Joint Management Board.

An organization called South African San Institute is also involved in the area, training the Bushmen and Mier in traditional skills and trades that have been lost over the years of assimilation and acculturation by the so-called Europeans (ie., the white South Africans) and the black population.
The sand dunes in this part of the world are burnt orange. The vegetation is a dry sage green blended with the colours we in the north would call khaki and…sand colour. My Lomo camera won’t be much use here. This beauty is more gradient and calls for a different type of documenting.

Lions and leopards and raptors, oh my.

August 2 2008
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape, South Africa

Last night we spent the night at Molopo Kalahari Lodge in…well, there is no town name as there is no town. It’s a stop on the way to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Alas, even in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night, August 1st, payday means lots of drinking and loud music. I cannot quite believe that I didn’t sleep last night because the bar at the Lodge, the only place to buy liquor for miles and miles was so rowdy.

This morning, early, we drove to Twee Rivieren (Two Rivers), one of the official entry points into the Park. They check you in, note your route and where you are staying and detail when you are leaving to ensure you come out as well as go in. Very strict rules. We saw an overland tour vehicle turned back because of leaking diesel fuel and excessive fumes.

We got picked up at Twee Rivieren by one of the people who runs the Lodge where we are staying to do more of Geoff’s Roots/Routes work. In a four wheel drive open vehicle, we did about two hours on gravel roads (and saw rare red Hartebeest, elands, herds of springbok, an even rarer honey badger, gemsbok…) and then another hour and a half over 91 red sand dunes: a roller coaster ride! It was glorious. I am so out of my element and yet, my colouring—from the colour of my hair to the clothes I am wearing—match the environment. I do not blend. I blend. I do not blend. I blend.

Geoff is working with us on his Roots/Routes piece about “What is home/Where is home?” daily and as he has come to realize, home (to quote the adage) is where the heart is and his heart is in a solitary and deep part of Africa. The heart, as he calls it, of Africa is in the places untouched by time. That is why we made this long journey into the depths of the Kalahari Desert.

So here we are, after several days of our creative, emotional and physical journey to the heart of Geoff’s Africa at !Xaus Lodge, an oasis in the midst of nowhere and at the heart of everywhere. It must be in the high thirties celcius even though it’s winter and just going on 5 p.m. Tonight the temperature will likely dip towards the zero mark.

I’m sitting on the wooden deck outside my cottage, looking out at the pan, the dry lake bed that stretches out in front of me. It is huge enough that my digital camera needs three shots to capture it in its entirety. This pan isn’t the usual circular shape: it has a distinct heart shape. We were surprised (and somehow not surprised) to find out that !Xaus Lodge means “Heart Lodge” in the language of the Bushmen. Originally, the word that was used to name the pan translated into English as “diarrhea” and it was only when one of the Bushmen employees looked out at the pan, sighed, and commented on the remote location and said, “The road to one’s heart is never an easy one” that the name !Xaus was chosen.

The Bushmen were almost eradicated by colonizers in Africa, but the ancestors of these particular Bushmen retreated to the heart of the Kalahari where the thought no one would follow as it was too arid and inhospitable for colonizers who were blithely planting trees in gentler areas as they couldn’t handle the new climate/geography.

I don’t think we’ll be bothered by loud music tonight. Maybe lions roaring in the nearby pan as they kill an evening snack.


August 3, 2008

Well, no lions roared last night. But the sound of the local owl screeching all night and pounding with its big old feet on the part of the hut’s roof that is corrugated iron sure terrified the bejeesus out of me for most of the night. I got up this morning, after a couple of early dawn hours of uneasy sleep, to find that Geoff had the own slam into his front door in search of prey. He too almost jumped out of bed at the sound. We mentioned it to our hosts at breakfast and they shrugged and said, “oh yes, the owl. It likes those two huts.”

Maybe tonight I’ll sleep better without worrying that something was going to come in through the drape/screen window and carry me off. I’m kind of embarrassed that I was so freaked out, but hey, I’m a northerner and a city dweller. I know about cockroach behaviour and how to get rid of raccoons.

We spoke today with one of our hosts who shared the history of the Bushmen and the genesis of their settlement in this area. Lots of details to digest. Then we walked with him down the dunes, along the perimeter of the Heart Pan to a small work space that a group of Bushmen use to create crafts out of found objects. Not at all the museumization of the Bushmen that dusty dioramas usually depict. We met Lena, one of the final four Bushmen who is still able to speak their mother tongue, the Nu language. She was using a hot sharp iron poker to create holes in tiny seeds which would then be strung into necklaces and ornaments, and simultaneously cooking a one pot meal over the same fire, adding spices and herbs to the meat and bones simmering slowly. The Nu language has seven clicks in it which are thought to mimic the sounds found in nature. Sitting beside Lena in the red sand, next to the fire, under the noonday sun, I had to remind myself that this is winter in the Kalahari, as it was like sitting in a very dry hot sauna: no sweating, just the feeling of heat coming at you like a brick wall. The sand at some places in the Kalahari is up to 4.5 meters deep and in summer can hit 45 degrees celcius, though a few feet down it cools to 25 degrees.

I’m brimming with unrelated pieces of undigested information. I should try to process and contextualize, but everytime I stop to think and look out over the vast Kalahari and the Heart Pan, all I can do is scan the horizon for the next unexpected site.

This afternoon/evening, we’re going out to view sunset on the pan. Last nights shots from the viewing deck were extraordinary, so I can’t begin to anticipate this experience. We also used the Lodge’s 11” Celestron Telescope to view stars. Not just a closer look at Venus (which replaces our North Star as first one up at night!) but Omega Centauri, the Ring Nebula, the rings of Jupiter, the Veil of Stars…unbelievable to look at such things and realize that it’s not a fabrication on a cheesy television show (with all due respect to my beloved Star Trek…).

Enough for now. I want to get back to looking out at nothing. And everything.


August 4, 2008
Morning

The sunset overlooking the pan was, as expected, stunning. Visually as well as aurally: the sounds of the animals, the wind through the reeds and grass, the sands shifting. Two of the men from the lodge were with us so that at any given moment there were two sets of eyes scanning ahead and behind us for animal intruders. Of course, it’s us who are the real intruders. From the vehicle on the drive back we saw bok of many sorts, a pale chanting goshawk and a snake eagle stalking its dinner.

This 7 a.m., Myles and Geoff went on a walk through the dunes with a guide and decided to stay behind and watch the sky change colours. The sun was up by 7 a.m., but the sky continued to shift colours for the next ninety minutes. Subtle changes in blues and rose hues. The light moving across the pan, from my bed, gave the red sands varying intensities and the optical illusion of both waves and pools. What I saw as pools was really just the salt residue of water long gone and the red waves were likely shadows across paths created by the two springbok who we keep seeing, uncharacteristically, moving across the expanse.

When the sun warmed the air a bit, I ventured out onto the balcony to sit for a while and looked at the “morning newspaper”…the sand. Every morning the sand shows a record of what went on the night before. I should also add that the owl was much quieter last night. Perhaps he sated his appetite earlier and wasn’t as frustrated.

Among the smaller tracks made by raptors, their prey and the odd jackal were some large paw prints. I wondered if the lions or a leopard had been through camp in the night. The largest of the paw prints disappeared under our deck. Sure enough, when Myles and Geoff returned from their guided walk (we aren’t permitted out on our own), they told me that the staff confirmed a leopard had been around all night. Under our deck. They also said that from before dawn the lions had been roaring nearby.

Does this sound blasé? I assure you it isn’t meant to. Is it less thrilling to hear a lion or see a leopard pawprint then view the animal? Oddly, it is no less exciting. In fact, the voyeur factor is less in effect.

When we were invited to watch the Bushmen preparing seeds and bones and bits of ostrich egg for souvenir jewellery and wall hangings yesterday, I will admit to that discomfort that comes with othering people. At least with the leopard and the lions we let them do what they do and were simply here, on their land.


August 5th
Upington, Northern Cape
Evening

In the interest of full disclosure, I will state, uncategorically: the pride of six lions we saw, lazing atop an ochre red sand dune, during the three hour drive back to Twee Rivieren after leaving !Xaus Lodge was more thrilling than the leopard pawprint.

What can I say? It was an unexpected last gift. As was the gift the Bushmen gave me, one of their hangings.

Sitting in a Bed & Breakfast in Upington, the sound of traffic and the smell of a city, familiar to me as breathing out and breathing in, is a reminder of my usual reality. Odd to think how quickly we acclimatized to the quiet of the deep desert and how the silence, at first deafening, soon became a recognizable cacophony of sounds.

Sure don’t miss the owl.

havanastaircaseamber

Whitehorse

Posted on 2008.06.26 at 15:28
This is a photograph of a “Hiker’s Highway”, near San Joseph Bay at Cape Scott Provincial park on the northwest end of Vancouver Island. It was shot by a friend of mine, Vancouver theatre designer Ted Roberts.
Photobucket

I’m enthralled by this image, with its invitation to cross into the unknown, the terra incognita that the forest offers. I’m also both oddly comforted by the wooden pathway in the middle of the bush (humankind at work, making the unfamiliar recognizable!) and frustrated by its presence (a sidewalk in the woods? What’s next…a bear crossing sign? Well, I’ve seen stranger things.)
Photobucket
After a week in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, working with artists David Skelton and Joseph Fish Tisiga to begin an Ashley cycle of cyberSite Specific pieces, I find this dichotomy at the heart of all I’m writing these days. Whitehorse, with it’s astonishing landscape, is also *Whitehorse*, where Walmart and shopping malls and parking lots and pavement stamp that landscape with the blight of ashphalt and square, squat buildings.

Whitehorse mountains

Ted writes in a recent email, describing a part of the park, “Several miles from the park entrance was one of the early homesteads in that area, where the guy who had cleared the land (1906) had a keen interest in botanical, and brought in plants from around the world. He created a twenty acre garden in the middle of the rainforest with a huge variety of trees and flowers. Lindens from England, Japanese Maple,Monkey Paw tree from Chile, etc. etc. He passed away in 1953, and the indigenous forest spent the years since trying to reclaim the land. Ten years ago someone bought the property, and has since been discovering the huge variety of plants that have been overgrown, seeds lying dormant, and is now bringing them back to life.”

Hmmm…

Unfortunately, I can’t see anyone reclaiming the city of Whitehorse this way, given the ongoing influx and influence of outsiders from the south and the summer visitors from all over the world, heading to and from cruise ships, Tilley hats and video cameras in hand, recording beauty instead of experiencing it. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit to being one of those visitors with camera in hand, as was the project's Dramaturgy Intern, Andrew Cheng, as part of our work on the Ashley cycle was creating photo-documentation and visual context for the text that Joseph and David were creating.

Photo-documenting the downtown area for the Whitehorse Ashley cycle(which launches on the main Common Plants site this coming week), I was drawn to the proliferation of orange and yellow Arctic poppies in full bloom in alleyways, gardens, popping up through the pavement. So unlike the delicate flowers, the tourists from the south, the poppies were a lovely contrast to the painted mountain scene festooning one side of a particularly boxy building.

Arctic Poppies

Was the mural meant to disguise the building and help it blend into the landscape?

As a visitor from the south, I feel privileged to have experienced Whitehorse in winter as well as summer. The beautiful and the ugly, the new and the old. And as with the British Columbia forest that Ted photographed, a garden that is filled with transplanted, hybrid, and indigenous plants, I can only hope that the entwining of the foreign and the local allows both to survive, perhaps even to thrive.

I’m just not sure that’s possible.


havanastaircaseamber

Vancouver today, Whitehorse tomorrow

Posted on 2008.06.02 at 20:22
Vancouver. The sky is slightly ominous, with cloud cover fighting to eradicate a band of bright almost blue sky. Dark grey fighting with light grey bleeding into…oyster grey. Two incompatible weather systems duking it out. Can’t wait to see which one wins.

Just finished my stint at an academic theatre conference, presenting a paper on Common Plants. Now I’m turning my gaze north and giving in to the side of my brain that wants to make work not analyze work. Tomorrow I leave for Whitehorse, Yukon, to collaborate with Nakai Theatre’s David Skelton and artists that he’s selected. We’ll be creating an Ashley Cycle over five days. Checked the Weather Network and apparently the forecast for Whitehorse, overnight, is sunny. That is not a mis-type. We’re into June and heading for the longest day of the year, Midsummer’s Night, but even now the North has long, long days.

I’m looking at my suitcase which holds two wardrobes, just as my artistic and academic selves are the repository of two distinct vocabularies. The vocabularies intersect sometimes and I’m told that makes my academic papers “lively”. I tend to get offended when people tell me that, though I know they mean it as a compliment.

I am, always have been and always will be a border dweller, living on the line between two worlds that often don’t blend. I characterize the border as a bridge, a tightrope, an electrical wire sizzling with current.

I like it on the border. I am not an accidental inhabitant, but rather a willing citizen of the border. But living on the margins of established territories brings both privileges and sometimes problematic conundrums.

Like how to respond to “compliments”.

Today I heard a paper about my work delivered by one of the presenters at the conference. A bit unsettling. I didn’t always agree with the interpretation of my processes but again, I guess being the subject of academic interpretation is a “compliment”.

Could be worse, eh?

At this moment the swath of bright white light underpinning the waves of grey is widening. The Weather Network tells me that this will change tonight. But for now, I’m focusing on how the perpendicular rays of sun are bisecting both of them, punctuating their horizontal flow with a reminder that even disparate, seemingly exclusive worlds are vulnerable to…no, not vulnerable…accessible by bridges.

Tomorrow: Whitehorse.

havanastaircaseamber

Coming Back Home

Posted on 2008.02.19 at 15:41
I and the Common Plants members creating a Roots/Routes journey with “Mercedes Bravo” in her native Cuba returned home, to Toronto, in the early hours of February 19, 2008.

All week, working with “Mercedes” to collaboratively create a collage of text, images and audio that explore her journey home, we shared an ongoing joke: for so many years so many people have been asking, praying, hoping for change. To that we added: just don’t let it happen this week. Wait till Tuesday morning when we’re home.

At 3 a.m., our heads hit our respective pillows after a relatively easy egress/ingress, flight and passage through Immigration. Of course, nothing was simple. There are always dramas and new chapters in the telenovela of travel in and out of Cuba. This time there are stories about travel in and out of Canada too.

We all slept fitfully. We chalked it up to an emotionally exhausting week of discovering, uncovering, recovering bits and pieces, of extracting fact from nostalgic imaginings.

Then, over bleary eyed morning coffee, we turned on the Internet to fact check something on a news site and were stunned to read that at 5 a.m., the Cuban government had released a letter announcing Fidel Castro’s resignation as President of Cuba.

This is not the place for political meanderings. This is not the time for me to try to think clearly. Lack of sleep and a week long sensory overload have taken their toll.

And this is not the blog entry I thought I would write upon my return.

But so it goes. For today, other than remarking on this, um, remarkable occurrence and its strange synchronicity all I can muster is that, as usual, time and weather alter the landscape.

havanastaircaseamber

To be and not to be

Posted on 2007.10.29 at 16:39
I was lying sleeplessly the other night, trying not to toss and turn, trying to stay still and willing myself to relax and stop thinking, which, of course, made me think of all manner of unrelated things on all kinds of unrelated planes. Mandates, manifestos, statements of purpose…for me these are the fodder of late night conversations with my self. My selves. So here are some thoughts about difference.

Lots of people ask me about difference and how I approach working creatively in geographically distant places with people whose lives are culturally distinct from each others, from mine, and/or with individuals whose life experiences are radically different from mine.

The short answer is “To be and not to be”.

Whenever I enter a room, I enter as me. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really quite complex. Not complicated, but complex. I carry several thousand years of unconcscious collective memory, and I also carry my own individual experiences. I also see through a particular set of individual filters, as do all of us. I am an educated white woman who was born in a country with great resources, natural and otherwise. (Granted, I’m the first in my immediate family to graduate from high school, but I do come from what I consider to be a world of privilege, despite challenges, where choice exists as does the possibility of change and betterment)

Whenever I enter a room, I admit what I don’t know. I also claim what I do know. That’s what I mean by “to be”. “I am,” to quote the very wisest of seamen, Popeye the Sailorman, “what I am.”

I don’t offer, but wait to be asked. I don’t take, I wait to be given. I have learned to engage and be part of the room and but I don’t ever pretend that my difference doesn’t exist. In so doing, I have, mostly, escaped the trap of creating or experiencing Otherness.

I also have learned, gradually, to embrace the discomfort and the peculiarity of feeling different. This experience should never get easier, I figure, but should become familiar.

One of the ways I cope with being different (not just feeling, after all, but the truth of being different) is to find something to ground me. Something that makes me feel like I’m supposed to be where I am. Or let that something find me. That sounds obfuscating, but I don’t mean it to be so. I’ll give a couple of examples to clarify.

The first time, as an adult, that I took a winter holiday to escape the cold and snow was in 1989. With my partner, I traveled to a still largely undeveloped part of Costa Rica. The stories about that trip are still crowd pleasers: from the six hour bus ride from the airport to the huts we stayed in, riding through the jungle with a driver who not only got lost, but actually lost the road and had to keep stopping the bus to hack through barriers of plant life with a machete, to the airplane hangar we stumbled upon, in the middle of that jungle, that had been taken over by a group of nuns wearing shocking pink habits who ran it as a restaurant and who seemed to idolize both an icon of Jesus and a small television, locking them into metal cages to protect them and…

But I digress.

On this trip, we stayed in huts that were perched atop a hill, overlooking the lush jungle. We were able to walk through a small overgrown path, downhill, around twenty minutes or so, to reach a beautiful strip of unspoiled beach. On one trip down the hill, we turned a corner on the path (which changed a bit each day as the plants grew and the path shifted a bit) and we came upon a very old tree. As I approached the tree to take a look at what I thought was a knot hole at my eye level, a stream of deep saturated blue started to flow out of the hole. Blue, cerulean blue. Accompanied by a sound like a whisper.

These were butterflies. Hundreds of cerulean blue butterflies. They swarmed around me, flying in circles, in a vortex around me as my partner stood to the side, watching in amazement. And though anyone who knows me well knows that I am terrifed of anything that flies, I stood calmly and let the butterflies encircle me.

And then they flew away.

This was the land welcoming me. I know to many that will sound esoteric. Or just plain flaky. But I truly felt welcomed. And though I didn’t and couldn’t and would never blend with the environment, I felt like I belonged there.

Another example. I have done a lot of work with Cuban artists in Cuba. Mostly during the 1990s, during what is euphemistically called the Special Period in Peace Time. My first trip was a result of circumstance: I was invited to participate in a cultural delegation of North Americans by people who knew me only through other people who knew me by reputation. I spoke no Spanish at the time. Upon arrival at the old Varadero Airport with this cultural delegation, the “fixer” (the person shepherding our group, a North American who was trying to build a business on cultural exchanges beween North America and Cuba) was marshalling us in the throngs of travelers and airport personnel and suddenly, a small AfroCuban woman (I am five feet tall…she was smaller than I am) appeared out of the crowd and literally flung herself at me and hugged me to her with passion, declaiming in a loud voice. I looked over her head and gestured at our guide, asking him to translate…and he just shook his head in wonder and explained, “She’s saying ‘Welcome. Welcome home. We’ve been waiting so long. What took you so long to get here? We’ve been waiting for you to get here.’.” And then the woman let me go with one more squeeze and disappeared back into the hoards of people. And in the claustrophobic, over-populated, stinky, smokey, dank mess that was the old Varadero airport, I felt calm. And welcomed. It was unfamiliar. And yet, I felt at home.

Did she mistake me for someone else? Did the butterflies think I was a big Canadian flower.

Ya. Well. Depends on who you talk to.

havanastaircaseamber

journeys

Posted on 2007.08.14 at 22:52
A couple of impeccably groomed thirty somethings are sitting at a trendy café. They’re toying with salads, occasionally sipping delicately from glasses filled with water, no ice.

Blonde Number One pauses for a moment and then asks Blonde Number Two, “Where are you going this year?”

Blonde Number Two answers without missing a beat, “Caribooan.”

“Caribbean?” asks One, superciliously. “That’s so over.”

“No,” says Two, even more superciliously. “Caribooan. We’re doing the North this year.”

And so it goes. Iqaluit in the summer is filled with people who don’t live here. Vacationers on the hunt for exotica. Nunavut, it seems, is the new holiday destination for the adventurous or those who want to experience something new. And with every island, spit, rock and landing strip in the Eastern and Western Caribbean now hosting an All Inclusive resort compound, what’s left to discover for the traveler with disposable income and a lust for the unknown. Explorers aren’t really persona grata in a territory still trying to reclaim place names (some maps still call Iqaluit Frobisher Bay).

The Caribbooan.

What have I seen here in August that four trips in October, June, and twice in the dead of winter—February—have not revealed? Tiny purple flowers everywhere. And next Friday, friends have invited us to their tent outside of town for a feast.

Why are we still here when we were supposed to be in Pond Inlet by now?

Fog.

In five trips this is the first time weather (an entity) has altered travel plans. No matter. The Bed & Breakfasts are booked solidly so we’re in the new Nova Hotel downtown. The rooms still have the “new hotel smell” which is a nice change from the stench and uneasy vibe of the Frob (my February blog was called “Why I don’t stay at the Frobisher Inn”).

Hopefully, we’ll get out tomorrow with Jolene and her baby Kaila. In addition to the Roots/Routes work, Jolene’s dad has all kinds of experiences planned for the qallunat.

But for tonight, the fog is dense. The hotel filled with other folks whose flights were cancelled. But no complaining permitted: the people who left Ottawa for Iqaluit on the 9:05 a.m. flight were first delayed four hours. When they finally got to Iqaluit and tried to land the fog was too thick so they were diverted back to Kujuaaq. Then sent back to Ottawa. We, on the other hand, sat with Jolene, her sister/cousin Eleanor and had a lovely long lunch, and talked about their family history. Jolene’s grandfather, who passed away the same day her cousin Carlene’s baby was born, saw the sun shift its arc forty five degrees over the past decade. Global change. Global warning. He also used to make tea for Jolene and her sister/cousin Eleanor from melted icebergs that was so pure that the tea didn’t turn brown, but rather a golden colour. Jolene also remembers her grandfather explaining that one should never urinate on an iceberg because old wisdom teaches that icebergs are home to spirits of the departed. If you piss on a iceberg, the spirit departs never to return.

Roots. Routes. Sometimes you hit a detour, but the journey still continues.

havanastaircaseamber

The North

Posted on 2007.08.14 at 09:35
Sitting in the rain and fog of an Iqaluit morning (currently +5 degrees celcius) and about to head north.

Yup. North of Iqaluit.

To Pond Inlet at the north eastern tip of Baffin Island. Land of Mittima. With Jolene and Myles. Jolene is doing a Roots/Routes journey home and Myles is continuing to document "common plants" for Common Plants, comparing the tiny tundra flowers to the tiny desert flowers in Namibian and SOuth Africa's Namaqualand.

Oh...and for those of you wondering where Ashley is, Ashley, who lives on three continents and a multitude of cities, is on the website at "The Ashley Plays".

Not sure if there will be blogging capabilities in Pond for us, but that's what, um, paper and pencils are for.

And now I need to go put on mosquito repellant.


Previous 10