Warm Like Melting Ice Day 8

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 9, 2013

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 1,216


Sydney rubbed at his mustache in frustration. It was bad enough that the arctic winds blasted through Clyde River, not only knocking out communications but impeding the progress of the Canadian Search and Rescue team. Convincing them to even dispatch for two local hunters was enough of a hurdle without the bloody weather showing its bad side. Not that winter had a good side on Baffin Island.

White-out conditions made it difficult to even go from house to house. Earlier in the day one of the locals had run his skidoo right into a sewage pipe. Because of the permafrost, sewer was piped above ground, causing its own set of problems, although sledding into a pipe was not always one of the more common ones. Everyone was tense, from elders on down and some spoke none too quietly about the officials not interested in helping two missing Inuit hunters.

While he would not admit it openly, that was the gist of the push-back Sydney was receiving from his own superiors. Two didn’t add up against the expense of a full-scale search and rescue deployment. Those tourists afloat on a sea flow last June were headline news and all the search and rescue boat and air power was launched in response. It had also occurred in June, not early March in the midst of a storm like elders recall storms behaving—fierce.

Sydney knew a few officers stationed in the Canadian Armed Forces who were willing to make a few phone calls. Trouble was that his lines of communication were sporadic. So a few phone calls turned into miscommunication and often having to start the process all over again while trying to convince everyone involved that the situation was urgent. It made time slow down and the more time it took to get looking, the more time two men might be over-exposed.

Despite the unlikelihood, Moe had already become legend. Down at the diner somehow people were talking about “Moe on a flow.” Within two days the man had become the biggest story around. Over donuts, coffee and brown fries, everyone added their own thread of color. It had become the community quilting bee, to fabricate what was happening when truth was, no one knew anything. So the quilt became their comfort.

Moe Ipeelie stranded on a flow of ice. It seemed more like a bad joke than anything. Sydney had even scattered a group of children, telling them to go home and get out of the storm. They had been waiting by the bay to see Moe drift past. An elder was telling a group of people about the animals and sea creatures that were visiting Moe one by one. For once, the stories held more attention than the hip hop dances. Although Tobie said they were planning one to honor Moe and Elijah.

Knowing that he had no real news to share, he still stopped by Lucie’s house, pulling up on his skidoo. The snow and wind howled as it rent a tarp on a neighbor’s shed. Soon the blue material would be airborne. Maybe it would make its way to Moe and become another part of the story as he sailed to Greenland and beyond, guarded by a pair of narwhals. Hastily climbing the steps to the small dark brown house with white trim on small windows, Sydney pounded on the door to be heard over the noise of the storm.

Lucie open the door and motioned for him to enter quickly. “You must have smelled my apple pies baking,” she said.

He could now; the sweet aroma filled the warm air of the cozy home. The kitchen was beyond the living room where five women were sitting on a couch and chairs arranged for visiting. “Smells splendid, Lucie,” Brindeau said.

“Oh, good. You called me Lucie. Then this is not official,” she said referring to his visit.

“Well, not exactly. Officially, I don’t have anything to say, but I wanted to check in with you,” he said, feeling a touch out of place now that his outer gear was beginning to drip and pool on the rugs splayed over wooden floors.

“Get undressed,” she said and all the other women, elders every one but Elissapee, laughed and eyed him with twinkling eyes that made him think they really would watch if he disrobed completely.

“Well, my parka, perhaps, my boots. I don’t want to drip.” He stuffed his gloves, face-mask and goggles into pockets and hung his coat on one of the pegs by the door. On the other side of the door a rifle was racked. It reminded Sydney that he had wanted to ask how Elijah had outfitted himself for the trip. When guiding, Elijah brought out a surprising number of modern gear and gadgets, but on his own he often used only what was traditional. “Lucie, did Elijah take a rifle?”

Lucie looked toward the gun on the wall and said, “That’s mine, and Elijah’s in the back bedroom. He took spears and a harpoon the way his grandfather taught him.”

“Your rifle? Are you hunting or protecting,” he asked.

“Neither. It is to the the dogs know dinner is coming,” she said. The women all laughed and Sydney hoped she really didn’t shoot it off like a dinner bell, but then again that might explain the random shots he often heard fired throughout town.

Curled up on the floor nearest the heater lay one of Elijah’s oldest dogs. Other than her stiff movements, she looked very much like the others in his yard. She was nearly blind, though, Lucie had told him last year, and had earned a hearth spot in the house. The only chair available was next to the old husky.

“She won’t mind if I sit next to her,” asked Sydney.

“No, not all all. She loved the last Mountie she met,” said Lucie with a mischievous grin. “Said he tasted good.” And the women laughed, some clicking their tongues and speaking Inukituk. “She’s fine, sit down. She’ll sleep and never know.”

“Ah, good then,” said Sydney, taking the chair and rubbing his hands down his knees. All eyes were on him expectantly. He cleared his throat and said, “Still waiting for the storm to break up and the military to launch a search and rescue mission. Not more to report, I’m afraid.”

Lucie walked over with a fat slice of apple pie on a blue plate, still warm from the oven. She handed it to Sydney and asked, “Do you know the story of Elijah?”

Fearing that a second legend had spawned, Sydney only shook his head and hoped that Lucie wasn’t going to get caught up in the Moe on a Flow frenzy.

“Elijah was bold. When he had to flee, he trusted God. He hid by the water and was fed by great black birds. He rode a whirlwind and raised the dead. Many wonders did Elijah perform.” Lucie went and sat down next to Elissapee. She then said, “My Elijah is not afraid. To live or to die. Which…we do not know yet. We will in time. But now, we eat apple pie and share stories. We keep our hearts warm, like melting ice so we do not grow hard or fearful.”

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