Wednesday, February 14, 2007
My Dear Students: First Impressions
Near the end of my train ride, the trees seemed to peter out. To the left of the train was a huge open expanse, perfectly flat but broken by chunks and lumps of ice and snow. To the right I began to see a cluster of buildings -- low like others I’d seen so far, but this time more of them. Out toward the open were a collection of buildings larger than the others. I guessed those tall buildings were the land end of a port. Identifying it as a port was made easier by the jackets worn by some of the people on the train. They wore union coats that said Churchill Stevedores. I know that a stevedore has something to do with ships, but I’m not sure exactly what. (Can you look up or ask someone about longshoreman and stevedore for me and tell me the difference?) Recognizing stevedores as port workers and the tall buildings as a port made it easier for me to identify all that flat bumpy ice as Hudson Bay.
After a brief stop for rented boots, we made our way out of town on the only road there is. It wound past the airport and along the shore. About half-way to the research station we went past a huge building with five giant doors. Turns out, it’s the town dump. Indoors! Trouble with bears and an old dump that was contaminating the drinking water has brought the community to put up a building to house the trash. They recycle like crazy, but still, it fills up. And just like our garbage in Western Washington it travels by train to a landfill. I wonder if they (and we) could find another way of taking care of what we don’t need that wouldn’t increase the CO2 in the atmosphere like tranporting waste does. How much that we throw away could we have found a way not to buy to begin with?