The Frozen 31 Post Show

A business lady charges down the sidewalk, her wristwatch tick-tocking the seconds she’s late for her morning meeting. She brushes past someone on the street, but doesn’t notice. He stands there with his hands in his pockets – just passing the hours away – trying to keep his fingers warm. They are two sides of a coin and that coin isn’t a nickel or a quarter, but time. One doesn’t have enough and the other, too much.

While I had intended for a part of this challenge to show a tiny glimpse into the time that the homeless have no choice but to be outside during the northern Yellowknife winter, it didn’t quite become what I had hoped. Instead, I was more caught up with the typical office employee’s struggle to make the time to be outside. While I won’t pretend that I came even close to experiencing my time like the homeless might, I did begin to think about things I normally hadn’t before:

Where do you go when you have nowhere to go? What do you do when you have nothing to do? Where do you sit when there aren’t any benches free from the drifting snowbanks? What do you think about when all you’re doing is waiting for the minutes to pass? How do you feel when you watch the city moving around you?

I began to understand why the Frame Lake Trail was popular. It’s a public place they can be and it provides something to do: walk. I spent most of the challenge alone and so I, like many of them, walked. At first my feet hurt, but then I got used to it. The worst was sitting somewhere. People would pass by as I sat cold, alone, going nowhere, and doing nothing. I felt out-of-place, uncomfortable. I felt in the way. I felt I could be asked to leave at any point, no matter where I happened to be sitting.

Yet, it felt wonderful to be outside so much. Unsurprisingly, it was the most enjoyable when I was with others playing hockey, roaming around, exploring, and taking in outdoor events. While winter can certainly coop a person up easily, it makes a big difference to say “screw it” to the cold and the dark and breathe in that fresh air while getting your body moving. This March was also not the billowing rager I had expected and prepared for. Last year the -40s stuck through the whole month with scathing winds so I had expected the same of this year, but was pleasantly surprised with just how tame it was. The mild weather was another factor that also made it easier to get outside.

Overall, I’d say that by taking part in this challenge, I was given an opportunity to view the city around me with a different lens. There is so much going on in a person’s immediate surroundings that they don’t consider in any way other than as how it relates to them. I think we miss a lot this way. Too often, we don’t even try to see other perspectives or what the tiniest of details may mean to someone else because it doesn’t have an impact on us. I would also say that those who work full-time indoors have to make a commitment to themselves to go outside. Without the commitment, it’s easy to let excuses take over while you start to become one with the couch in front of the old boob tube.

And that wraps up The Frozen 31: Success. Stay tuned for the next challenge and, as always, feel free to send me any ideas you’d like to see me try!

Nikki

(Also, I’m  offering up a big apology to any avid readers for the nearly month-long lapse between the challenge’s conclusion and this post. I’ve been on the road most of April and consistently untethered to technology. Which is sometimes a great thing.)

Frozen Day 30: The Bench Hunting Photo Run Down

I dedicated one of my previous 30 days to bench hunting.

It’s no easy task. Sure, you’re used to seeing parks and streets full of places to plunk down, but when it’s a game of hide and seek in the middle of the winter, damned if some of those benches haven’t just gone up and straight-away disappeared.

Everywhere I had gone it seemed that there were no benches primed for me to adorn with my butt. So I set out to sleuth what the real situation was. I did find plenty of benches: ones with no back rests, metal ones, wooden ones, ones set way out along the far reaches of pathways, ones lining the downtown streets, ones sitting in the park, and ones you’d miss unless you were a skilled bench hunter. But this was about more than just finding the benches. It was about finding ones that could actually be useful for more than holding a bank of snow.

The most abysmal one, which I didn’t even get a photo of, was along the sidewalk in front of the Shopper’s Drug Mart’s parking lot. That poor sucker was covered in snow, then doused with exhaust and wind whipped until it looked like a filthy mountain glacier. Although I found a significant amount of unsuitable rump resting places, there were still benches that one could have decorated with their derrière. So my little Bench Hunting Photo Run Down isn’t an accurate depiction of the smattering of seats in Yellowknife, but I can tell you that I did learn that there aren’t that many benches that are snow-free or accessible.

One of the things this made me think about was how people who have nowhere to go can’t even just sit still for a while unless they find one of the few suitable benches or just give up and plunk themselves into a snow bank. Not everyone is on the move. Those who don’t have somewhere to go should be able to at least sit down – they already don’t have much and in the winter, they’re barely even given the opportunity to do this one simple thing that most people probably haven’t even considered unless they remove the snow themselves or traipse through it to a clear bench. In a way, it seems analogous to the City’s decision to remove benches from outside the post office.

Snowy BenchIMG_0051

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0049IMG_0047

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0046IMG_0045

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0044IMG_0043

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0042IMG_0039

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Day 18: A Horror-ific Chill

Temperature: -11 degrees Celsius (After work) and -16.2 (Evening)

Feels Like: -16 degrees Celsius and -21

Wind: NE 8 km/hr and NNE 17 km/hr

In the middle of the night, I woke with shivers. The cold had curled right around my bones, like a snake, and squeezed the warmth wholly out of them. It’s not that it was particularly cold outside today, rather it was that I spent 4 hours out there.

It had actually felt quite warm and I had to remove my mittens during the after-work walk; however, not long after that I spent a nice chunk of time in the ice castle. Though the weather had seemed like something to scoff at, it wasn’t long before my toes were too cold to gain any warmth just by curling them. The event at the snow castle was the film festival Dead North and so I couldn’t count on dancing to keep me warm. By the end of the evening there was a deep chill in my body, though that may have partly been due to the fact that I had just watched a series of really fantastic horror shorts. (All of the films were created by northerners in a 9 week span and the results were amazing, so I simply had to plug that. You can check out most of the films here.)

Each time I attend an event at the snow castle, it’s incredibly fun and it really helps me get those outdoor hours in. The thing that keeps nagging at me is that I’m having too much fun. I had originally wrote that this is an office worker’s challenge to make outdoor time and in that I am succeeding; however, I also wrote that I hoped to give people a window of perspective to look into so that they could consider how different all this time outside is for the homeless.

People with no homes and no money aren’t spending their time dancing in the snow castle or taking long introspective walks or being entertained. So, this is where I diverge from what I had originally hoped to show. Although I had never intended to try to portray what time on the streets for the homeless is like, I had wanted to use my experience to plant the seeds of reflection in your mind on what that experience might be like. Of this, I’m not confident that I am succeeding. During my long solo walks – perhaps, but when I am playing outside – I’m not so sure.

With that in mind, I’d like to leave you with one final thought for today. After just 4 hours outside, I couldn’t warm up most of the night. My skin was cold and I had to wear heavier clothing to sleep. Sure, if I had spent more of that time moving, it wouldn’t have given me such a deep chill, but that still doesn’t detract from the point: those on the streets spend much more time out there every day and they’re not keeping their bodies moving the entire time either.

Time: 5:10P – 6:32P and 7:47P – 10:28P

Today’s Minutes: 243

Total Challenge Minutes: 2175/3720

Ahead/Behind: +15