Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jamboree weekend

The annual Long John Jamboree isn't necessarily a sign of spring in Yellowknife. Over the past few years, the temperatures on jamboree weekend have been absolutely frigid. This year, happily, the weather decided to cooperate. I even took my mandatory dog race photos without freezing my fingers!

Held out on the ice of Yellowknife Bay, the event was as well-organized as ever, with crowds coming out to enjoy the art show, kids events, and ice sculpture. This year I even saw people drinking in the beer tent (also known as the Brrr Garden), the nice weather a little more conducive to imbibing a cold beverage. Great fireworks display last night, which I was able to enjoy without even leaving my front room.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Awesome Northern Lights

We've had amazing Northern Lights this week. Took this shot from the little park across from my house. A rare treat to photograph the lights without freezing in the snow!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall afternoon in Yellowknife

After a hot summer, fall came early to Yellowknife, with cool temperatures in early September. Things have rallied, though, and today was a wonderful fall day - nice temperatures, some sunshine, and one last(?) blast in the boat. Snapped this picture of Negus Point on the way back to town, with the long-defunct Con Mine's Robertson head frame in the background. Hoping for a repeat next weekend!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The view from here

Well, not much of a view at all. The top photo shows downtown Yellowknife, taken a short time ago from the top of Pilots' Monument. The photo below it shows what it's supposed to look like.

At last count, we've had 333 forest fires in the NWT this summer; 54 of them have been put out. Smoke has blanketed the city for days on end. Last Thursday we had a brief thunderstorm. The clouds, combined with the smoke, made the street lights come on at 5 p.m. and dropped a sludgy rain that coated vehicles, houses, vegetation -- you name it.

A week and a half ago, my husband flew out to the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Tracts of scorched earth, hanging smoke, open flame. A friend who's been in one of the burn areas said the fire came through so hot and so fast that some trees are charred to a crisp on one side, but still green on the other.

Highway 3, the road that connects Yellowknife and other North Slave communities to the rest of Canada, opens and closes, depending on how close the fire is to the road, and/or how much smoke is affecting visibility. People have been stranded in Yellowknife, Behchoko, and Fort Providence. There are all sorts of photos floating around showing the post-apocalyptic landscape that now borders Highway 3. A neighbor who just drove up told me that the view is surreal, with tree stumps the only thing left in some place, while in others there are standing trees, but with the tops and bottoms burned. It's not unusual to see trees with a little bonfire burning at their base scattered along the road.

There have been times, I've heard, when visibility on the road is zero. In Yellowknife, we often live in a sepia-tone bubble. Right now the air tastes like an ashtray and my high-tech asthma meds are barely keeping up. According to Environment Canada, Yellowknife's Air Quality Health Index is currently 15 on a scale of 10. The windows are coated with grime and our clothes reek of smoke. The T-shirt I wore grocery shopping yesterday morning is now buried the bottom of the laundry hamper because it smells so bad. Canadian Tire is pretty much sold out of car wash liquid, as people try to keep the smoke residue and ash from their vehicles. It's been a strange summer, and with no change in the weather forecast, it looks like it's going to continue for some time.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Smoke gets in your eyes . . . and lungs . . . and hair . . .

The Northwest Territories is having its worst fire season on record. So far, there have been 141 fires, 26 of which have been extinguished.

Kakisa, a lovely little community south of Great Slave Lake, was evacuated a few days ago. Although the fire took a run at it, none of its signature log buildings were burned. Things did not go so well at the Hoar Frost River, in the East Arm of the big lake, where a home was burned to the ground.

Highways have been closed and re-opened due to smoke, and the fire has come dangerously close to the fibre optic line that keeps everything from the internet to bank machines working in Yellowknife, N'dilo, Dettah and Behchoko.

Friday night we received a call from the territorial government to see if anyone was out at our cabin along the Ingraham Trail. They were planning to close the road, and wanted to know who was in the area. Memories of the fire that came through in 1998 and wiped out a neighbouring cabin, just a few hundred metres from ours, but left ours standing. A couple of scorched pillars supporting the outhouse was the only damage.

We've had a lot of smoke in town. The photo above shows the hazy shoreline across from our house. That by no means has been the worst. There have been a couple of times when you could only see a few hundred yards.

In the meantime, we wish for rain and cooler weather and hope that things do not get worse.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Yay for the beer barge!

The beer barge has arrived in Yellowknife, heralding the start of summer.

Back in the old timey days, the first barge that made its way across Great Slave Lake to Yellowknife, right after spring break up, carried a supply of beer. Given a lack of roads and the fact beer is heavy (so expensive to fly in), the little mining camp on the edge of the big lake would run dry towards the end of winter. The arrival of the beer barge was an occasion of great joy.

And it still is. We now have a road in, but the re-enactment of the arrival of the barge is a great way to remember Yellowknife's heritage, and as well as acting as a fund raiser for good work of the NWT Mining Heritage Society. We go down to Max Ward's dock in the Old Town, try to guess what time the barge will come in, have a barbecue and drink of (you guessed it) beer. A lovely way to kick off summer.

(Photo: the 2014 beer barge just about to reach shore at Max Ward's dock in Yellowknife's Old Town.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

NorthWords 9: A Brave New North

Last weekend's NorthWords Writers Festival was the usual blur of activity. As we've come to expect, the events were incredibly well organized, the visiting writers were friendly and approachable, and we all had a chance to hear from some really great local talent.

I sometimes blog about NorthWords here, but this time around I provided an article to the NWT Literacy Council's blog.

If you'd like to read about this year's NorthWords, please click on the link above.