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December 18. Yellowknife Bay. “High Noon”. Just a couple of days before the solstice, when everything will start to get better or at least brighter I tell myself.

This time of year midnight, 8 am, 4 pm, it doesn’t really matter, it’s all dark. Around 1 am on the solstice I tie a string of Bhutanese prayer flags between some birch trees then lie down in the snow on Yellowknife Bay to watch the lunar eclipse and make angels. -30? -40? Whatever. My Snowgoose parka, skipants and Baffin boots will keep me warm. Distant snowmobiles roar across the lake, a few pickups drive by on the road above. I hear the swish swish of the skier coming out of the night before I see him and call out, great eclipse, eh? in case he is about to run me over. I’d like to take out a couple of those streetlights he says pointing up at the road before continuing on his way. Later I can hear engines starting across the bay, see single headlights aimed back towards the lakeshore. Although my parka is striped with reflective tape it occurs to me that might not be so useful laying in the snow within metres of a skidoo trail. I get up and walk home.

The next day I fly to the Okanagan to spend Christmas with my Mom and Dad. The joy of waking up to daylight at 7:30 am. I’m tempted to cancel my trip to Mexico on Boxing Day. Inevitable airport and customs hassles, ridiculous connections, and really, what are the chances I’ll make it through Kelowna, Vancouver and Portland this time of year without getting fogged in at least once. Is a mere 6 days in Mexico worth all this? The thought of it all makes me feel like a grumpy bear dragged out of hibernation.

But I do get on the first plane. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. And then I’m in Playa del Carmen. Days and days of friends, sun, sand, sea, rum, hammocks, quesadillas, bright colours …

New Years’ Eve. How can 2011 be anything but a letdown after 2010, my year of Andes Rockies Himalayas Alps Himalayas Alps Rockies South Atlantic South Pacific North Pacific North Atlantic Mediterranean Caribbean Italian Riviera French Riviera Mayan Riviera Huron Superior Maggiore Futaleufu Po Seine Tiber Thames Pho Chu Mo Chu island valley rainforest glacier pampas bog plain meadow tor steppe desert taiga. A voice on the breeze whispers that some how some way believe it or not 2011 will be even better. For me, and, I sincerely wish, for all of you.

Post script: January 6, 2011. 7:45 am. I’ve traded flipflops for mukluks, swimsuit for parka, and set out on my 45 minute walk to work. It’s only -20 something, and I’m grateful for that. Dawn is just close enough that I can make out the silhouettes of the prayer flags fluttering below as I pass by. I hope they’ll make someone else smile too.

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It’s Sunday afternoon in Yellowknife and -31 C. Ideal conditions for staying indoors drinking tea and updating one’s blog!

I’ve been back in Canada since September 30, back in Yellowknife since Hallowe’en and back at work since the first of November. October was my last month of “freedom” and I made sure I packed a lot in: a quick drive up north to find an apartment, a long-awaited road trip to Lake Superior, visits with friends and family, and enjoying the Okanagan fall. Here are a few colourful memories of those not-so-long-ago warmer days…

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