Saturday, June 10, 2006

Migratory Thoughts

This year the snow geese didn't arrive.

Every spring people look forward to hunting each evening as the geese put down for a night's rest. It is a reward for residents who have had to put up with a long, cold, dark winter and is a harbinger of an all-too-brief summer spent camping and fishing away from the trials and tribulations of living in a small, remote village with very little to do.

This season means a migration of protein sources away from fish, caribou and seal. These birds are usually boiled. They are not plucked; rather, they are skinned, quartered and simmered for a couple of hours with onions. Roasting them is out of the question for all but the most exceptionally skilled cooks: unlike domestic geese these birds are devoid of any fat resulting in an extremely dry and coarse meal unless the meat is larded. And who the fuck has a larding needle up here anyways?

But this year, hardly a snow goose was seen or heard - their "wind-blown clamour" unusually absent from our northern audioscape. Apparently, their migratory route this year shifted about 100 miles to the west, for reasons only known to geese. You could sense the disappointment around town as those who made nocturnal forays shotgun in hand into the hills and river valleys near town arrived back empty handed.

We are about to experience another airborne migration within the next week - the annual exodus of teachers leaving town for the summer to their homes and families in the south. One ritual surrounding this event is the sell-off of groceries and other items by the teachers, some of whom are departing permanently. Myself I picked up a box of spices from my daughter's teacher who is retiring from the north.

This is followed a month later with a different migration: as if needing to rebalance the void created by departing southerners, the village beckons to an aerial influx of carpenters, technicians and sundry tradespeople trying to cram a year's worth of construction into four short months.

Having be born and raised in the south of Canada, but having lived for more than two decades north of the 61st parallel, I go through a constant virtual migration in my soul: when things get confusing and chaotic up here, I seek solace in my upbringing, education and values from the south. But when things are going right, I cannot conceive of living anywhere else but here.

Boy, are my wings tired!

11 Comments:

Blogger Annie Drogynous said...

While it's all very interesting, I could never live where you live. I am very against hunting of any kind.

1:44 PM  
Blogger marty said...

Living in a big city like new yawk, this is very quaint. But I guess you get used to it.

3:28 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Blair Bitch: Personally, I never hunt or fish. To me it is wrong to kill something for sport and amusement. But here, through tradition and economic necessity, I'd guess that over 75% of all protein consumed in the average household comes from hunting or fishing. Just as long as it's done with sustainability in mind it's fine with me.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

For the first three winters we were here, we found joy in watching several hundred Canada Geese gather in a local farmer's field to prepare for the trip home. This winter, said farmer invested in a bunch of scarecrows. We miss the geese.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Tamara said...

Nanuk--this isn't related to this post, But HELLO!! I think you're the same Nanook I know? And if so, how the heck did I not know about your blog? I'm gonna have to keep up with you. Especially since I'm dating a Canadian...GO FIGURE!

11:10 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Marty: All humans adapt, I suppose, but what I was trying to say is that we're all very much a product of how we were brought up. To quote an old slogan, you can take Salem out of the country, . . .

Anna: It's ironic, but the quote "wind-blown clamour (of the barnacle geese)" comes from Yeats, my favourite poet.

Tamara: Sadly, I don't think we've met. But do come back here regularly. I've taken a gander at your blog and think you're an interesting person, and I, too, have taught high-school English (adults). Hope to see more comments soon.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Tamara said...

Nanuk...thought you might be the same one I met via the bad dating site I met Marty on :) LOL...but then I saw you're not Jewish. Anyway...Nice to meet ya. I'll be up your way in a couple weeks. Ottawa eh ;)

4:47 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Seems like there are a lot of changes brewing in your part of the world because of climactic quirks.

My hunting exploits usually wound up with me coming home empty handed. I still had a great time, but then I wasn't counting on the meat.

4:10 AM  
Blogger DutchBitch said...

The Snow Geese are still being held on the Dutch Island of Schiermonnikoog... As soon as you manage to pronounce it (or the geese themselves) they will be released...

S-c-h-i-e-r-m-o-n-n-i-k-o-o-g

3:34 PM  
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10:44 AM  

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