A VISIT TO THE ARCTIC
written by Debbie Williamson
"Hi there boys and girls! I sure hope you are nice and warm under all those blankets. I'm not. I'm way up here in the Arctic. It's very cold up here!"
Travellin' Rick had arrived in the Arctic about a month before. He was staying with an Inuit family. There were four members of this particular family, Iza, an 80 year old grandmother, George, the father, Sarah, the mother and Sally, the two month old infant.
Because Travellin' Rick was a strong man, he was helping George throughout his stay. George was glad to have an extra hand around. The Arctic can be a very difficult and lonely place to live.
The Arctic is situated right at the very top of our planet. Hardly any plants grow there because of the extreme cold temperatures. Wild animals are scarce.
In the winter months, the Arctic is in total darkness because the sun cannot reach this region. In the summer months, the Arctic is called the "land of the midnight sun" because during this time of the year, the Arctic receives sunlight 24 hours per day.
The very first thing Travellin' Rick needed before he could do much of anything, was some fur clothing. Iza, immediately upon his arrival, set to work preparing the warm clothing that Travellin' Rick needed. It took many hours to make the matching fur parka, leggings, boots and mittens.
The Inuits use the soft, supple hides of the caribou to make their clothing for the long winter months. The caribou hides are the most durable fabric to use. Inuits would not survive in the cold Arctic for very long, without their special clothing. The regular winter parkas and boots that we wear, would never do the job, with the extreme cold temperatures of the Arctic winter.
Travellin' Rick was warm and comfortable in his furs. The men in an Inuit family spend most of their waking hours out of doors. They have many chores to do. The sled dogs have to be fed, fish have to be caught and seals, whales, caribou and polar bears have to be hunted.
The women in an Inuit family very seldom leave the comfort of their warm and secure snow-houses called an igloo. The women tend to their household chores, look after the infants, dry fish and other meats, prepare meals, sew clothing and make ivory trinkets.
The Inuits are a very busy people. Most of the chores and hunting during the winter months, are done in total darkness. The oil from the seals and whales is used as a fuel for lighting the snow-houses. Because the walls of the houses are pure white from the snow, the Inuits homes are very well lit.
Snow acts as an insulator, therefore, the igloos are very warm, comfortable and draft-free. Of course, the Inuits cannot live in their igloos during the summer months. The Inuits live in tents during the warmer seasons.
A group of six to eight dogs, usually huskies, are used to pull a sled over the ice and snow, to get to where they are going. The Inuits move from one camp to another during the different seasons of the year, depending on food that is available to them. The Inuits carry all their worldly possessions on their sleds from one camp to another.
Travellin' Rick found the Inuit people to be very friendly and entertaining people. He misses his Inuit family and they miss him, too.