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.

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Frozen Days 23-25: A Mother’s Wrath

Temperature (*C): -5.1 and -10(23rd) -8.9 (24th) -13.1 (25

Feels Like: -9 and – 15 (23rd) -11 (24th) -16 (25th)

Wind: ENE 8km/hr and NE 7/hr (23rd) E 4/hr (24th) NNE 4/hr (25th)

There’s something going on up here. All of the people can feel it and as we pass by one another we give off little nods and our lips bend with slight crookedness. We all know what each one of us is thinking, but no dares to speak out loud and certainly not with conviction. There are whispers here and there, but when they start to get a little louder we avert our eyes and scuttle away. We wouldn’t want our hopes to incite the wrath of Mother Nature.

“This might be it,” the whisper floats across the air before you.

“It feels… it feels like… spring.” The last word puffs into existence with breathy awe and once it’s out there, there’s no way to snatch it back and stuff it in your pocket.

Mother Nature knows.

And that’s a scary thing. Though she often smiles upon us, she can be very, very cruel. She likes to wait until we think the coast is clear and then leap out in an explosion of frozen ice, hard snow, and billowing cold. Surprise! she shrieks, her words spitting hard pellets of snow like machine gun bullets.

She gets us nearly every time.

So we try to pretend that thoughts of warm, sunny days aren’t taking over or that we’re starting to consider that winter may actually be coming to an end. So long as we don’t fall for it, maybe, just maybe what comes after winter may actually arrive without one last massacre. Yet, right now, I can feel myself falling for her tricks, because it is just so inconceivably beautiful out there right now.

Time: 12:31 – 1:27 and 5:15 – 6:35 (23rd) 5:01 – 6:30 (24th) 12:30 – 1:20 (25th)

Today’s Minutes: 219

Total Challenge Minutes: 2909/3720

Ahead/Behind: -91

Frozen Days 16-17: The Lonely Bench

Temperature: -18.9 degrees Celsius (16th) and -15.9 (17th)

Feels Like: -27 degrees Celsius (16th) and -25 (17th)

Wind: WNW 13 km/hr (16th) ENE 17 km/hr (17th)

It’s midday and there’s no one around. Great puffs of hardened snow are piled up around me as I sit on one of the few accessible benches in the city. It was quite the find alright – especially since almost all of the other benches scattered throughout the city have been overtaken by piles of snow. The wind tears across my face, but I bear the sting because I have nowhere else to go. I feel out of place because I am loitering. There is nothing to watch – no birds in the sky or water lapping at the shoreline or people playing in the park. I imagine the people in the buildings of downtown looking out the window and thinking there is something odd about the person who is just sitting there, still and purposeless. I imagine they can tell that I’m not waiting for anyone, that I am alone, and that I have nowhere to be and nothing to do but let the time pass. Which it does. I eventually stand up and walk away having done nothing but scratch my mitts against an asteroid-shaped chunk of snow. The cold has seeped past my protective layer of clothing and I am chilled. My face is a mottled burgundy. But as I leave, I place that chunk of snow on the bench. Although imperfect and rough around the edges, it is shaped like a heart. Perhaps, for someone who finds themselves at The Lonely Bench, that is something after all.

Time: 2:32P – 3:46 (16th) 12:45P – 2:06P (17th)

Today’s Minutes: 74 + 81 = 155

Total Challenge Minutes: 1932/3720

Ahead/Behind: -108