Well, as life sometimes does, it served up a great gift yesterday. I think I told you I'd heard from my friend Sapina Snowball in Nunavik that she was coming to Montreal for a career conference. Yesterday, when I got home from school, there was a phone message from her. She explained that she'd arrived late on Monday and had been at her conference all day yesterday... and that she was leavingfirst thing this morning. So I thought to myself that was that and I'd have to wait for another time to see her. But, just as my husband and I were sitting down to a late dinner, the phone rang and there was Sapina, trying me one more time. I gobbled up my steak and mashed potatoes and rushed out to meet up with her.Â
She was with a friend named Ida Baron, who is also from her town, but whom I didn't meet when I was there last year. The three of us went for "coffee" (actually we all had milk -- but it sounds strange to say we "went for milk") and pastries at the cafe at the Pepsi Forum in Montreal.
Not only did I get to hear about what's up with Sapina (and Ida), but they caught me up on the lives of my other friends in Kangiqsualujjuaq (Sapina, I know you're reading this -- did I get the spelling right?!!), and they HELPED ME WITH THE NEW BOOK PROJECT!!!! I had several questions for them, mostly about winter camping and the kinds of things that could go wrong on a winter camping trip. Sapina told me she'd heard that once, when some people she knew were asleep in their tent, a polar bear came along -- and pressed down on the tent. Just writing that makes me anxious!! We also talked about something very sad. On New Year's Eve 1999, nine people died in an avalanche that hit the girls' town. The townspeople were celebrating at the local school when the avalanche struck. Though it was hard for them, Sapina and Ida shared some of their memories of the terrible night. In the story I'm writing, I want my narrator (a boy from Montreal) to learn not just about the North, but also some life lessons from the kids he meets there. To have been so close to death as people like Sapina and Ida were that terrible New Year's Eve must change a person -- and make them understand things about life that the rest of us often don't. Anyway, I didn't mean to write another sad blog entry today. Mostly, I wanted to say how very privileged I felt to spend some time with these two special young women. Now I feel a new burst of energy that I plan to use later this afternoon, when I return to my story.Â
You may not hear from me again until next week. That's because I'm going to a terrific children's writing workshop in Toronto, called "Packaging Your Imagination." (If you're an aspiring children's writer, you should look into coming, too. The event is organized by a group called CANSCAIP.) I'll be sure to fill you in next week on what I learn while I'm away!