Christmas in BC was a lot of fun. I was able to rest and was happy to return to Colville Lake. Jenn and I were fortunate to be able to travel back to Colville Lake together. Jenn spent her Christmas with her boyfriend, Calvin, in California. She had a few hours back in Vancouver before meeting me at the airport to complete the journey back home to Colville. We met Martin in Yellowknife and all spent the night there before catching our North Wright flight into Colville. We were all so thankful for our rest and were feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into teaching.
Our first week back was crazy. We had 3 school closure days due to extreme weather warnings. School is closed as soon as the weather drops to fifty below. I have never experienced cold to that extent before. At that point any skin exposure physically hurts. Both Jenn and I have noted our change in perspective when we check the weather now. Negative 20C now feels like a warm day.
When I was home I was able to invest in some better layers and clothing. The original parka I bought was warm enough, but didn't provide enough protection from the wind. I bought one that is more durable and holds up against the arctic winds we face here.
Jenn, Martin, and I have jumped right back into checking fishnets and delivering fish to local community members. This task has proved to be more difficult with the colder weather. I have learned some very valuable lessons about layers. Apparently too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing. As in, too many socks can actually work against your warmth. I learned this the hard way while out at the net one day. I had four layers of wool socks on, which unfortunately cut the circulation off to my feet, which in turn caused the blood flow to slow, which lead to a very painful freezing of the feet. The thawing out process of my toes was one of the most painful experiences I have been through.
Cold weather has lead to some new experiences for me. Our pipes freeze on a weekly basis now. I had to rip the shelving out from under our sink after the pipe burst. On average our toilet flushes properly one day week because the majority of our septic is frozen solid. When the sewage truck comes to pump the septic it only clears a small amount of space. Thankfully we live really close to the school and are able to go over there if things get really bad with our plumbing (we tough it out as long as we can at home ... because, really, who likes to venture out into arctic winds to use the bathroom?!).
We are also learning the ins and outs of the remote northern pace of life. For instance, we had noticed that our oil heater stopped functioning properly. We later found out that the oil hadn't been delivered because our driveway wasn't cleared. I didn't even know we had a drive way?! Fascinating really. The fan in the heater also broke. The solution: a butter knife stuck through the vent to push the fan every time it slows down. Not the most efficient, but certainly effective. These things would never happen in the city, but here they are normal and expected and I am growing very comfortable with them.
Hunting! I am hoping to get my gun licence. There is a licensing officer coming to FGH and I am hoping to go there and get certified. I have been looking at a .410 that I hope to buy in Edmonton next month. For now I am just a wild life spotter while Martin hunts. The pictures below are of a ptarmigan that Martin shot on our way out to fishnets. I would like to point out that I am the one who spotted this bird. I consider it a hunting assist? If that is even a thing... haha!
Martin has also bought a new gun. It is a double barrel and will be perfect for shooting bunnies and birds.
Martin has been taking students out to the fishnets on field trips. The kids LOVE going out with him. They play an active role in each step of checking the net. We are gearing up for spring carnival and plan on entering the chiselling contest.
We have slowly been getting the ice-rink back to working order. There have been a few big snow storms and the shovelling jobs have been quite hard! The school hired a few kids to help last weekend and will probably have to hire a few more this week. A new skate sharpener came in the mail this week too. Some fun community skating days are in the works for February.
Jenn and I have both taken our classes out cross-country skiing. Sunset is happening early afternoon these days and makes for a beautiful sky to ski under. I am slow. Very slow. I was proud of the kids. They kindly waited for me as I struggled along. By the end of the season I am determined to keep up with them.
January has felt long. Very long. It has been an exhausting transition back to school for both myself and the kids. Martin had a few principal trips to make and for other various reasons we were short staffed this past week. I ended up taking my class down to the high school and taught the two groups together. I loved working with the high school students. It was fun to get to know them better and to walk alongside them in their learning. I am looking forward to getting back into routine in my own classroom though. Having the extra students and grade levels added a big dynamic to my week and I am tired.
February will be another exciting month in Colville Lake. This weekend the boys are heading to Tulita to participate in the Hand Games tournament. It is an exciting time for the kids. They have the opportunity to win a lot of money. Later in the month many of my students are taking off to Norman Wells to participate in the Traditional Games. They have been diligently practicing these past few weeks and 4 girls and 4 boys will be chosen to represent our community. I look forward to seeing the kids in action.