What's Your Word?

What's Your Word?

Posted on September 27 by Kerry Karram
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If I asked you what was the first word that popped into your head when I said “Arctic”, what would it be?  I asked friends and family members this question.

It turns out the word “Arctic” conjures up some interesting responses.  Here are some answers to my question: “snow”, “icebergs”, “desolate”, “power”, “mystery”, “resources”, “silence”,  “death”, ”incomprehensible” and “monkeys” (apparently there is a band called the Arctic Monkeys?!)  After I had a list of about 50 words describing the Arctic I sat down to see if there was a common theme.  Aside from the word “monkeys”, there was.

The Arctic is a place that conveys mystery, and awe:  just thinking about it brings shivers.  This place---shrouded in darkness for much of the year----is one that very few of us have seen up close, yet impressions of it come easily. So, where do we get our sense of the Arctic?  Well, likely from the stories we’ve read, many of which tell of hardship and of death, or by watching documentaries and movies, which give us colourful images and sounds from the land on top of the world.  Strange how we can have such vivid ideas of a place we have never been to, isn’t it?  Visiting the Arctic is on my “bucket list” and not because I've read about it or watched TV.  I know someone who lived above the Arctic Circle for many years and loved it.

Not only did he live there, he was one of the first men to ever fly over the region, map it and take photos. He was my Grandfather, Andy Cruickshank, and the words he wrote to describe the Arctic put me alongside him, flying over the vast tundra, or hunkering down in an igloo to wait out a storm.  He often thought how remarkable it was that the materials he needed to protect himself from the storms were made from the death-gripping winter blizzards and blasting frigid polar winds. He would say, “Everything is there to sustain life, if you know how to find it and use it correctly.” If I were to ask him today, what his one word to describe the Arctic, my guess is that it would be “home”.  What’s your word?

Kerry Karram

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Kerry Karram

Kerry Karram uses the handwritten diary of Inspector F.J. Fitzgerald to chronicle the harrowing ordeal of four NWMP officers lost in the Yukon wilderness for 52 days in the winter of 1910-11. Death Wins in the Arctic reflects her deep interest in Canadian history and her love for the North. She lives in North Vancouver with her family.