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 Days 26-29: Going Out With A Bang

Temperature (*C): -7 (26th) -0.1 (27th) 1.2/-7.3 (28th afternoon/evening) -10/-4 (29th morning/afternoon)

Feels Like: -14 (26th) -4 (27th) -13 (28th evening) -15/-7 (29th morning/afternoon)

Wind (Km/hr): S19 (26th) S11 (27th) NNW 26/NNE 14 (28th afternoon/evening) NE9/S6 (29th morning/afternoon)

I couldn’t help it.

The sun was shining bright, the snow was melting and the steady sound of water running from roofs could be heard everywhere I went. My winter jacket was too heavy, too warm, too wintry-like. I forewent mitts and long johns while I worked outside. I began sweating. Despite all of this, I knew it was still too soon, but… I couldn’t help it:

When I returned home I did the one thing I do every year to celebrate the spring. I bought a six pack of Corona and limes. Then I went onto my patio in a light sweater and socks, popped the top, squeezed the lime, and said goodbye to winter.

The entire weekend stood in stark contrast to this exact weekend one year ago. It was Long John Jamboree and last year I’d steal an hour here or an hour there before the -40 degree weather forced me to seek refuge back at home. This year, however, I wore runners and a sweater. The weather hovered right around 0 and it wasn’t until I had spent nearly 5 hours enjoying the jamboree and the only open patio in the north that the chill began to take over.

This weekend was amazing. It felt absolutely incredible to spend almost all of it outside soaking up the fresh air and the warm sunshine, surrounded by people having fun. I spent Sunday just as long outside, playing in a pond hockey tournament all day. Hockey, beer, and burgers – a marvelous combination made all the better by the weather and the atmosphere. Sunday evening, as I finally went inside with the day and the action-packed weekend winding down, I added up all my time and realized I finished with 3 extra hours and 2 days early. What a wild weekend to say the least. And I don’t think I could have ended the challenge in a better way. I even have a pinkish tinge to my nose.

Time: 12:30-1:24, 5:05-6:20(26th) 1:30-2:50(27th) 1:30-5:40, 8:35-11:05(28th) 9:56-4:32(29th)

Today’s Minutes: 999

Total Challenge Minutes: 3908/3720

Ahead/Behind: Ahead by 188 minutes

Frozen Days 19-22: Putting Time in the Snowbank

Temperature: -18 degrees Celsius (19th) -15 (21st) -7.1 (22nd)

Feels Like: -23 degrees Celsius (19th) -21 (21st) -12 (22nd)

Wind: NNE 5 km/hr (19th) S 7km/hr (21st) SE10 km/hr (22nd)

There’s something that happens when you trade up concrete sidewalks lined by roadways and buildings for the path set along a lake’s edge or winding through the trees. The people are friendlier. You’re no longer just another hooded Canada Goose jacket – you are someone they have something in common with. You are a comrade with nature! A lover of the great outdoors!! An intrepid explorer becoming one with the universe!!! You boldly step away from the concrete and choose the path less commercial, the one that winds and meanders, that brings you into an uncompromised, unbroken world.

And those people on that pathway with you, when you pass them by, they lift their mitten in salutation because they understand this. They look into your eyes and say hello because, off the sidewalks, you are not just a cog in the machine, you are someone. Your journey is more often than not also your destination. Just like it is theirs.

Maybe. Or maybe I’m just projecting…

Regardless, consider this little ole idea: if the above has somewhat of an element of truth beneath its romantic, aggrandizing structure then think of what it’s like to cross paths with someone where there is no path at all, just wonderful, bountiful trees and rocks and dirt and birds and life all around. You’d probably fall in love right then and there, right? No? That’s just me?

Alright, great proclamations aside, the weather has been a real treat. I might even dare to whisper that spring may truly be on the horizon. This weekend was particularly nice and I had some company with my playtime outside which was another nice treat. After a 2 hour walk, she comments on the weather and I reply that it has been this nice all week. She didn’t even know. That’s the office dweller’s plight right there. You’re locked up inside plugging away until the day passes and then you have to hurry home to get some food in your belly and run your errands and all of a sudden that alarm clock is ringing and you’re on your way to work again. You have to make a real, concerted effort to get outside time and it’s worth it. The sun on your face, the air in your lungs, the sights before your eyes, the thoughts in your head – it’s all worth it.

Time: 1:06 – 2:05; 5:07-6:28 (19th) 11:05 -1:40; 3:30 – 4:45 (21st) 1:30 – 3:55 (22nd)

Today’s Minutes: 515

Total Challenge Minutes: 2690/3720

Ahead/Behind: +50

Frozen Day 3: On The Job Clocking

Temperature: -28.9 degrees Celsius

Feels Like: -34 degrees Celsius

Wind: North 5 km/hr

Today feels like a cheat day. Not because I’m even further behind, but because I got to log over 2 hours during work hours. I have to say it was somewhat of a god send. I’m learning that to fall behind is much more of a serious infraction each day. Like any hole, the deeper it’s depth, the harder it is to climb out of it. But, you know… this is Day Three. Day Three.

DSC05674

The two hours plus passed by quickly as I was busy working even though I had some inadequate coverage on my feet and was doing the foot shuffle trying to keep my toes warm. This morning I hadn’t taken the time to choose wisely when it came to socks. Instead of a pair of toasty warms, I chose some thin lizzies. Now, to the above left you’ll see what my work site was for the morning. Not too bad. Not too bad at all. I’ve said it a bunch of times, but up here it’s just different.

So. I clocked my hours, got my work done and was able to have a nice, relaxing evening in – which I needed.

After the hullabaloo of the weekend, my body went down the tube and allowed sickness to creep in. So be prepared for some whiny posts over the next few days. I’m a supreme baby when I get a cold. And I’m not ashamed to say that I want my Mom to come take care of me every time even though I am a grown woman. I’m sure you get it. Moms just make everything better. Unfortunately, I’ve lived more than a road or two away from my family for some time so I haven’t gotten that Mom Magic to make everything all better in years. My chicken noodle soup just isn’t the same.

To recap, I’m still behind a bit, but I’m optimistic on banking a number of hours soon. I’ve always preferred to be ahead rather than scrambling to catch up. Sometimes it happens, though, and you just have to roll with the punches until you’re back on top.

Time: 9:34 am – 11:57 am

Today’s Minutes: 143

Total Challenge Minutes: 334/3720

Ahead/Behind: Behind by 26 minutes

The Frozen 31 Reveal

There comes a time every year in the season of cold, snow and ice where that extra layer of clothing feels like it’s really weighing you down, your anxiety heightens with each block you walk without falling, and you just might lose it if your car refuses to start one more time. You’re ready for the end to say the least.

And though April really isn’t that far away, March can be a rough month in Yellowknife. Which, for those of you who don’t know, is in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The wind comes up and Mother Nature usually likes to slap you with one last reminder that she’ll be back in just a few short months – so don’t get too comfortable.

While we are generally an adventurous bunch up here – each of us adapting to the elements – some of us also find we’re more often cuddled up on the couch rather than outside. Office workers can be especially outdoors-deprived, spending their working hours hunched over a desk and their off hours kicking back at home, running errands or fulfilling commitments that keep them shielded from those precious rays that boost their vitamin D levels and that keep them from drinking in all that fresh air. Couple this with a diminished number of daylight hours in the deep of winter and many people’s moods start to plummet.

I’m an office dweller myself and I’m also one of those people that has spent more time indoors this winter than I’d care to admit. So, for the month of March, I will be spending the equivalent of 2 hours outside per day for 31 days. Take a gander at the Current Challenge page for all the rules and info.

I know, I know. For all of you who work outside (or far south) all day this seems like peanuts; however, the combo of a desk job, commitments, and what can be the blistering cold of Canada’s north make it a challenge to not just take on the cold, but to make the time to get out there.

Now, this isn’t all about just getting outside and reaping the benefits of fresh air, exploring and owning the cold. Nope, it goes a bit farther than that. You see, I can choose to stay indoors, protected from the elements. Others can’t. Due to the hours that homeless shelters have in Yellowknife, there is a gap where homeless men don’t have a warm place to be. In the evening, this gap is two hours; in the morning, it’s one hour. While the experience will be undeniably different as this is a reality of life for others and only a challenge for me, it’s an opportunity to put in the time to better understand what those two hours mean for those who have to endure them.

I hope this challenge will show the good that spending time outside does for a person, but even more so, I hope it will help put just one basic aspect of homelessness into perspective.

The Frozen 31 starts March 1st. Updates are posted the next day.