Sunday, 21 September 2008

Berries and other stuff

I can come up with all kinds of things to write about on a daily basis when I'm far from the computer. Then I sit down, and I blank. So I figured I'd give you a small look at a few more things from around here. First are the berries. Depending on who you talk to, these dark little berries are called either blackberries or crowberries. Some people love them, some can't stand them, but whatever you think about them, they grow well up here. The hill near the hospital is literally covered in them. I felt horrible at first, walking through them and feeling the crunch of many wasted berries under my feet. I didn't want to pick them my first week here, because I wasn't sure what they were or if they were safe to eat. Okay, if I'm going to be completely honest here, I had heard that there was really good berry picking around, but hadn't had a chance to question anyone about which berries were good... when I came upon a lovely patch of them in town. So I stooped down to inspect them, picked one, and popped it in my mouth without thinking. As the lovely tart flavour literally burst in my mouth with a spray of juice the second I bit into it, I suddenly realized I had no clue if this berry was okay to eat or not. After swallowing the first, I still couldn't help but pick a second, and in curiosity I squished it between my fingers to see what it looked like inside. Under the black skin, it's bright red and super juicy. One tiny 1/2 cm berry, and I had stains on three fingers of one hand and two of the other. The red juice eventually dried, and left a purply blue stain.

What I have learned since is that there are both black berries and blueberries around here, and some other berry that is flavourless, but no berries that grow here are poisonous. Also, nobody picks the berries in town, because "people like to walk their dogs." I got the message and have restrained myself from picking in town since. I keep meaning on going for a longer walk with a container to put some in, but for many reasons, including work and laziness, I haven't yet gone.
Here's another picture, this one of a local weed that I thought was really neat. Apparently these go through a few stages, and you know the stage of summer by the stage of the plant. It starts out as a purple flower, then grows a twisty column of cottony fiber that looks like a witch's hat, then it hits this stage:

And finally, a picture of the apartment where I live. It has four floors, and is brand new. As with most buildings in town, it's up on stands/pillars. Because of the permafrost, no one has basements, and to level out buildings, it's necessary to build them on platforms. While this works well in general, the buildings still settle significantly in their first year from summer to winter to summer again. Also... being on a hill by the bay, the wind sweeps through here at a pretty good rate, meaning on windy days, a tall building like this sways a bit in the wind. I only hope the engineer thought that through before it was built. I have nothing to complain about though. I was talking with one of the ladies at work about the way the building sways, and she was telling me about Pangnirtung. It would seem they are in a valley (actually a fjord) surrounded by mountains, except on the side that faces the sea. Like a little horseshoe-shaped coastal town. The wind funnels through the town due to shape of the mountains, at a speed in excess of 100km/hr some days, and most of the houses are literally tied down! (I checked, I've seen pictures, it's not me being gullible!) So at least the wind isn't THAT bad around here!

Anyways, it would appear to be far past my bedtime. Goodnight!

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