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Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

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by Patricia Lightfoot

Summer up north

By Patricia Lightfoot

A series of tweets recently by an Iqaluit councillor about the pleasures of visiting the community of Pangnirtung, which is about an hour’s flight north of the territorial capital, followed by one expressing concern about getting his flight home made me think of a visit there that I made this summer.

The community of a little under 2000 inhabitants is located in the shadow of Mount Duval on a fiord that leads from Cumberland Sound to the Akshayuk Pass in Auyuittuq National Park. The setting is remarkably beautiful and prone to fog, so flights are regularly cancelled. Continue reading “Summer up north”

Waiting for the north wind

By Patricia Lightfoot

Every year in July through September, goods ranging from cars and trucks to construction materials are delivered to Nunavut communities by the sealift, that is, on massive ships. The reason for this is that none of the communities is connected by road, whether to another community or to the south.

This year, only a few items were unloaded before Iqaluit’s Koojesse inlet started to fill up with sea ice that had blown south, from Greenland according to some locals. Continue reading “Waiting for the north wind”

Travelling in Japan: Koyasan

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the final instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day. After Kyoto, we went to Mount Koya or Koyasan, which is an area of religious significance, being the centre of Shingon Buddhism.  One attraction for visitors, apart from the town’s natural setting in the mountains, its history, its many temples and other religious buildings, is the opportunity to stay in a temple lodging, Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Koyasan”

Travelling in Japan: Kyoto

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the third instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day.
In Kyoto, we stayed in a two-hundred-year-old wooden building that had been operated as an inn by the current owner’s family for over a century. The ground floor is now a whisky bar with Belle Époque–style stained glass. The upper floor has traditional Japanese rooms with rice-paper screens, tatami mats and cushions to sit on, but there is also an Edwardian sitting room with a wooden floor and armchairs. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Kyoto”

Travelling in Japan: Nikko

By Patricia Lightfoot

Here is the second instalment of a brief tour of Japan presented through the Japanese words I practised each day.
The train from Tokyo took some time to leave the greater metropolitan area, which was not surprising as some 38 million people live there, and move into a landscape of villages, small holdings, rice fields, trees with no leaves but bearing orange fruit, a few large houses with gardens of manicured trees, and distant mountains. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Nikko”

Travelling in Japan: Tokyo

By Patricia Lightfoot

Based on a recent visit, these are my impressions of Japan. It’s a Western country, so a lot is familiar, but there are many fascinating differences. I was struck by the great contrast between the skyscrapers and neon signs of downtown districts and the older neighbourhoods. Walking into our neighbourhood in Asakusa in Tokyo was like entering a film set: narrow streets were lined with wooden houses that are hundreds of years old, often where the same family has lived or run a business for many generations. In these areas, businesses can be hard to find, because they can be very discreet. Continue reading “Travelling in Japan: Tokyo”

Playing with robots

By Patricia Lightfoot

I have been thinking about Nora Ephron’s account of her obsession with Scrabble Blitz, “a four-minute version of Scrabble solitaire,” which left her with “all the symptoms of terminal attention deficit disorder,” as she dreamed about scrabble, fell asleep memorizing two- and three-letter words and tuned out of conversations. I am now beguiled by the Bridge Base Online (BBO) app. I play the anonymous form of the game with three robots. My symptoms are not as pronounced as Ephron’s, but there’s no telling how far this might go. Continue reading “Playing with robots”

Lost books

By Patricia Lightfoot

When I say “lost books,” I don’t mean books that I once owned and can no longer find. I mean books that I once heard being read aloud, or read myself and returned to their rightful owner, but have no way of finding, having long forgotten the title and the name of the author. I remain sadly tantalized by fragments of barely remembered text and images. Continue reading “Lost books”

In defence of the “Fredly”

By Patricia Lightfoot

A group of us rode the 100 km from Perth to Kingston and back the other weekend through rural Ontario. During the preceding week, we had checked the weather forecast repeatedly, if not obsessively. As the ride approached, showers featured prominently in the forecast but then gave way to a prediction of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-twenties. We prepped the bikes. We made lists, or at least I did, of what should be packed and transported by van to Kingston, including footwear to be worn there, as it’s hard to clip-clop around town in bike shoes. A few years ago, one of our party had been obliged to purchase a vivid-purple emergency pair of flip flops at a dollar store in Westport to the vast amusement of all. Continue reading “In defence of the “Fredly””

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