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She may be a doctor, but she ain’t too bright: Part 3, Blizzard Folly

December 4, 2011

Part 1 and Part 2 explain the background of how I love hockey and the way I’ve been trying to play in Rankin Inlet. This post is about the game last Sunday night and how, fueled by a love for hockey and the desperation to get some ice time between clinic duties, one can be lead to do silly things.

Although I was glad to have a day not on-call, I was actually reluctant to head to the game. It had been 2 weeks since I’d been on the ice, and the last game I played didn’t go that well. I haven’t done other exercise here in the meantime, either.  Usually I workout in my living room but had abandoned it temporarily when I felt sick. Would my team even want me there? I know I struggle to match their caliber of play, and it seemed like forever since I’d skated.

I managed to suck it up, and got myself dressed for going outside. It was kind of windy out. Wait, kind of blizzardy. Oh, the blizzard they’d promised yesterday had finally arrived. Through the window, I saw the lights of a truck on the road, obscured by the hazy snow. The bit of me that wondered ‘hmm, will anyone show up to play in a blizzard?’ was quashed. Of course they’ll show up! It’s not THAT bad out, and they all have trucks or SUVs or at least ATVs. And everyone in Rankin is used to wind like this. No?

The view from my apartment living room window in late November. No blizzard.

The same view from my window; medium strength blizzard (visibility not at its worst, winds 80km/h). It's hard to capture the real sense of a blizzard with a still shot. These are daytime shots, it's much crazier at night when there is little ambient light to guide the way. There is not that much snow on the ground - it's just piled in new places now.

So, I pulled on my shoes, my neckwarmer, toque and mitts. I zipped the parka up to my face and carried my gear down the stairs and out the door. Whoa! It was hard to close the door behind me as it was whipped open by the wind. I began walking with my gear slung on my back. It was very quiet save the howling wind. Snow drifts waited on the ‘short cut’ path I took. I was able to stomp through them, but emerging in a gap between two buildings, I was confronted by a wind funneled directly at me. Trudging on, it was hard to see my feet. There wasn’t deep snow, just a kind of mist that flew across the ground. It looked like the ground was flowing in front of me. The scene was like a time-lapse shot in some National Geographic special on the Arctic, meant to illustrate the erosive forces of wind and snow.

I finally arrived at the arena. I was sweating under all the layers – the ambient temperature wasn’t much less than -15C – but my face, and particularly eyes, were frozen. Hmm, only one or two trucks in front. The lights were dim. I walked up the metal steps and the door was locked. Lights were off inside. I pawed at the door again.

“Oh.” I laughed out loud, turned around, and steadied myself for the way home.

The wind seemed to be against me again. Gusts were head-on no matter which direction one was walking. I made it back to my place thinking that at least I was a good sport for trying to get to hockey, even though I was reluctant and even though the blizzard was beginning. I guess I should have called someone to see ahead of time if the game was still on. Finally up the stairs I entered my apartment, put down my hockey bag and stick, and went to undo my shoes, which are kind of more like ankle boots. I lifted my pants and a few chunks of snow fell out of the cuffs and onto the mat.

The next day, I was disheartened to find out that the arena was closed until further notice. One of the pumps is broken either on the Zamboni or on some ice-making equipment (the rumor varies). I don’t know if the game would have still been on in that weather – maybe. The winds and blowing snow settled, until about 4PM the following day when an honest-to-goodness stay-in-your-house, the-Health-Centre is shut-down, it-is-snowing-in-your-apartment, all-flights-everywhere-are-cancelled, and you-can’t-see-more-than-1-foot-in-front-of-you blizzard hit. I’m working on some video for that, but it may have to wait until I’m in the land of better Internet.

I learned a few things:
1) Do not declare yourself as a ‘trooper’ until you have all the facts.
2) The goggles you brought up to Nunavut ‘just in case’? Use them. They make walking less stingy. Goggles.
3) If you hear a blizzard is coming, it will. If not tomorrow, then soon. Do forgo lunch in favour of buying milk and other essentials.
4) If you think it is a blizzard outside, wait. It will be even more of a blizzard the next day, and you’ll feel silly being in awe of what was hardly a storm by local standards.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 4, 2011 8:37 pm

    Be careful there Doc! Popsickle-itis can be fatal. Walking in blizzards can cause hypothermia in minutes… I lived in the Fairbanks, AK area for 18 months and many times it dropped to – 70 below 0 in the wintertime. Incredible things happen when the temperatures plummet that low. You are one enthusiastic hockey jock! Guess it goes with the territory.

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