Predicting Yellowknife’s future

On EDGE: Opinion

Peter Sheldon

It’s future predicting time, Yellowknife. This fall it’s going to snow, and the fall after that. And everyone will take to Facebook and they’ll write, “Snowing in October!! Can you believe this nonsense? You know you’re living in the Arctic when…” And someone will correct them and say ‘sub-arctic.’ And the people will like it, but they’ll still be cold.

And then this winter, the lake will freeze, and everyone will drive their cars on the ice, and the people will take to Facebook or Twitter or whatever and they will say, “You can build a road on the ice up here!” And others will say, “No way?” and, “So hardcore,” and, “I can’t believe this nonsense!” And the thumbs will point skyward, and it will be dark out so you’ll need a flashlight, and if you forgot extra batteries you’ll be very sad.

And then the spring will come and the land will glisten, and the people won’t even have to wear an extra coat when they go ice fishing, and the evergreens will shake off their snow, and the people with sunglasses will take to Facebook and say, “Isn’t this the most beautiful place on earth, you can go trapping or skiing or just stand around in the sun on a frozen lake and you’re warm, and nobody else realizes how great this place is. Can you believe this nonsense? They don’t get it. Nobody gets it, man.” And the people who live here will get it. But some of them got it before others and don’t talk about these things as much.

And then next summer, and every summer after that, the sun will circle overhead, and the people will golf at midnight, or fish at midnight, or paddle on Frame Lake at midnight (because I hear it’s no longer gross now), or make love at midnight, or worry about Giant Mine at midnight, or steal a bicycle at midnight and ride down the hill and look up and say, “Isn’t this weird, it’s totally bright out but nobody’s around to see me. It’s like the world stopped and I’m the only one left cycling through this town on this stolen bicycle, with a stolen helmet too, which might be surprising to some, but I’d wear this helmet, even if nobody is looking, because that’s when I stole this bike, isn’t it, when nobody was looking? It’s mine, all of this is. This big old land is mine, and a year from now if I’m still here it will still be mine and I will still look in wonder at the land and I will say, “It’s future predicting time Yellowknife.”

And someone will write, “We’re going to do this all again next year, only by that time it’ll be a little warmer, and melt a little sooner, and it’s because of climate change,” so the people won’t be happy about it, or whatever, but they’ll still go to Facebook or Twitter and they’ll say, “Can you believe this nonsense!” And the people will. And if you’ve been here long enough you’ll know it’s true too, because you knew it first, but you don’t talk about these things as much.

Peter Sheldon is a writer, philosopher and faithful producer for the public broadcaster. He’s back in Yellowknife after three years living and working in Iqaluit. You may remember his column, “On needing a Number 77 fix: words of a Noodle House junkie” (now framed and on display at the restaurant) from EDGE YK‘s April/May 2013 issue.

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