Monday, March 26, 2007

How to Trap a Polar Bear

The days are getting much longer already, even though it hasn't even been a full week yet since the vernal equinox. By my reckoning, and by this handy calculator courtesy of the US Department of Commerce, we are gaining daylight at a rate of 5 or 6 minutes a day. Come May, the twilights will almost join, and it becomes hard to distinguish morning from night. At that time the weather generally stays sub-zero but the sun is high enough in the heavens that it throws a very strong heat. At first the black roofs thaw, followed by the asphalted roads. Then anything dark begins to melt out as well since the solar heat load is retained by dark, non-reflective objects.

Last year my erstwhile Russian boarder Yuri noticed this tendency of dark objects to thaw out the first. He had just finished his 4-week rotation at the mine 90 miles east of here and was already starting to get bored. Like me, as non-Inuit, we are not really permitted to hunt even though I have been up here over 20 years and all five of my children are Inuit. This doesn't bother me in the slightest since I have qualms about squeezing triggers. But the inequity of this proscription was very hard for Yuri to stomach especially since he was confronted with 2 weeks with very little to do.

"Nanuk, I am going to trap polar bears" he said after a few Vodkas.

"Now wait a second, Yuri, you can't even do that. Just because you are not using a gun still doesn't mean you can kill some poor animal by starving it to death in a leg-hold trap. Moreover, there are no traps in town large enough for this".

"But I'm not killing animal. After six days or eight days it will be leaving and go swim and eating seals." "And just how do you expect that manage that?", I queried.

"I have plan". He punctuated this short sentence with an extra-healthy swig of Vodka, and went up to bed.

I didn't see much of him for a few days, but heard through the grapevine that he was up at the dump looking for something. With this bit of intelligence I started to get the sinking feeling we were going to see something truly remarkable from my Slavic guest.

That night I went to my shack behind the house to get some jumper cables for the truck, but the door was blocked from behind by something weighty. I shouldered my way in to discover about 10 green garbage bags filled with something. Opening one up I put my hand in only to find ash and bits of charred wood. On investigating another bags I came to two conclusions: that all were filled with ash, and that Yuri must be responsible since ash is only found at the dump where the town's garbage is burned. That and the fact that only Yuri would be crazy enough to lug all these bags the three miles down from the dump.

"What the fuck are you doing with those bags in my shack", I asked politely when next I saw him.

"Going to trap polar bear." And he looked serious.

"And how the hell will you manage that with garbage bags?"

"Not with garbage bags, Nanuk - with ashes".

Foolishly, I pressed on with my questioning, although I knew better. "So what are you going to do with the ash?"

"I dig hole in snow. But when it is too deep for shovel, I put ashes in bottom. Sun heats ashes, ashes heat snow, snow melts deeper. Soon hole big enough to trap bear”.

My mind was reeling by this point. “Sweet Mother of God, how is the bear going to find your one hole in thousands of square kilometers of snow!!??”

“Smell. After long winter of nothing but seal, polar bears crazy about vegetables. I shall put 3 cans of peas all around edge of hole.”

Having been sucked into this crazy argument I wasn’t about to give up now. “So what’s the polar bear going to do? Jump in the hole out of gratitude for his first vegetarian meal of the year?”

Yuri looked at me calmly. “No. When polar bear stops to take a pea, I kick it in ash hole”.

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Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

I heard that one in Northern Wisconsin, when I was 10. Of course it was a black bear as polar bears are pretty scare in Northern Wisconsin.

8:16 PM  
Blogger c'est moi said...

You totally friggin hooked me on that one. I got a good belly laugh out of it too! Thanks.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Mademoiselle Princesse said...

3 cans of peas! :)))) I was beleiving you till the last minute... Does even Yuri exists? Anyway, if I were God, I would create him.... Hhehehe! :) Yes, I ROTFLMAOed..... :))))

11:29 AM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Damn cat! She was using my pc a few minutes ago and I forgot to change her name... :))))

11:31 AM  
Blogger Eternally Curious said...

OMG ...

(Yes...I am easily amused!)

9:28 PM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

That story? Is inhumane trapping.

And you got me, hook, line and sinker.

10:04 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

To all: sorry you had to suffer through this one. I've been taking it out of storage, dusting it off and shining it up for decades.

I guess that dates us, eh Phos?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Teeeheeee. You had me going too! I was intrigued.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Mouse said...

I can't believe I fell for that!
Blame a hangover, sunstroke from a break in the Breton rain and approaching senility

2:55 AM  

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