Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bannock & skidoos

the house woke me up a couple of times last night – not with ghosts or mice, but with noises from the furnace. I’m currently by myself in the house, but the furnace keeps up a nearly-constant conversation, ticking and rattling and sending weird morse messages through all the pipes before subsiding for fifteen minutes, as if waiting for a reply. I don’t know what it wants to tell me, but at midnight, the creaking was particularly impressive. The permafrost here means that house constantly shifts as things change temperature: doors swing closed when they’ve stayed open the day before, cupboards refuse to close, and the house crackles like the Northern Lights. After chatting with the furnace for a while, I went out for a walk to the river in what passes for early morning here (10am); seems unusually quiet, until I remember that it’s Saturday, a day off. But soon, on the path along the river, there are bright individual lights, and four skidoos pass me, going politely slowly on the shared path. The drivers are wearing black terrorist balaclavas (useful accessories up here, though generally not used in bank robbery), and their skidoos each drag a sleigh of provisions…mostly red plastic tanks of gasoline, since there aren’t many gas stations out in the bush. Until today I’ve always disliked skidoos, figured they were noisy machismo, but I realized this morning that if I lived here, I might get myself one. The four sped out along the path and didn’t disturb me or take up much room, and they were gone in an instant, out into the white landscape that’s all around.

Later today I’m going to the Fur Show. All I know is that they’ll be serving bannock (for those of you who don’t know what that is, try making the stuff, preferably in the wilderness in minus 20 weather: take 1 cup white flour, some salt, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/3 cup or more cold water... Add enough water to make a thick dough. Form into 1-inch thick cakes and place in the bottom of a greased cast iron frying pan. Cook on low heat until done on both sides, or prop the pan in the coals of the fire. For a variety add dry fruits, raisins, blueberries, etc. Serve with butter & honey or molasses when done).

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