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  • Day636

    Do you Seal what I See?

    June 8, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    The summer melt is full upon us here in Igoolik and with it brings much surprises at what lay underneath that obscuring blanket of snow for 8 months. Lots of pooled water that the kids absolutely love. Sometimes makes getting from your front door to some dry land a bit tricky. Rubber boot season.
    Where the snow is gone and the water is gone, we’re left with mostly trash underneath, unfortunately. The snow acts a great eraser. The 8 months of winter creates a giant layer cake with snow layers alternating with trash layers. It’s extremely effective. During the winter, the town landscape appears pristine. The ugly reality of non-degrading objects becomes painfully obvious at this time of year. I think the contrast between the impossible cleanliness the snow imparts and the accumulation of 8 months of dumping is what makes the change seem so stark. There is everything from dirty diapers to snowmobile parts. From the banal cigarette butts to the shocking dog carcasses. My pictures on here show a full seal just chilling in the trash. Looks perfectly edible to me. Not sure why it was there. It’s like the curtain got pulled back from the Wizard.
    Every year the community organizes a clean-up and there is good participation. Last year, the person that collected the most cigarette butts received quite a monetary reward—can’t remember how much, but it was probably pretty good because the monetary rewards/incentives here are usually pretty darn good. Unfortunately, the clean-up has to wait until the snow has all melted and the pooling lakes and mud have dried.
    This isn’t aimed at being negative about the town. It is a fact. There are no municipal services that clean the streets or remove general waste and garbage other than what is in the plywood garbage bins outside each house. In a place where you can’t go to the local home hardware store or Ski-Doo parts store to get things, many people’s land surrounding their home looks like a junk yard. Broken and discarded objects of any type you can imagine are there, just waiting for the time that a throttle cable is needed or a 2 inch hex head bolt. You never know.
    It makes me think of 2 things: 1. The unsung work of municipal/city works that keep your cities and neighborhoods looking clean is like a mother running the household behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly without ever getting the credit she deserves. And 2. The impact humans have on the landscape when we live in a place. I had a coworker that went to Myanmar during the Rohingya refugee crisis. He went there not to provide aid to the people or help the people live, but to assess the dramatic impact the almost instantaneous flood of 400,000 people had into an area with no infrastructure. The refugees had to dig latrines and wells. They dug them very close to one another because, well, that is convenient and there are no codes/bylaws. The refugees need fuel to cook with and heat their shacks with so they cut the surrounding forest to nothing. Mudslides ensued---Onto the refugee camps. It was an aspect of human inhabitation that I never really paid much attention to, and definitely not one I thought about in terms of an unplanned, inundation of people into an area.
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