A Study in Contrasts: YEG International, boarding Delta 5777

Amazing contrasts  Sad thing is, they stop being striking as a person gets along in their life.  Used to be, coming out of the woods, even into the relative calm of Ely Minnesota, even from a relatively short outing like a Lynx Track 7-day trip, I would feel as if I had been transported into a different dimension. Everything was moving too fast, everyone was talking too fast, it all made very little sense for a day or two.

Now — scary as it is for me to admit, sitting in the Edmonton International (YEG) departure lounge, soon to board a Delta smoker for a three- hour flight to MSP, 600 miles an hour at 36 thousand feet, with a hundred and fifty strangers — this all seems quite normal.

Even though a week ago today, I was sitting alone on a taiga rock hilltop, trying my best to sound like a cow moose, so that I could lure a 700-pound bull moose in close and — very reluctantly, these days, but you gotta eat what grows around you and I have not a single doubt on that point — shoot him dead..

Which I did not, because Bullwinkle never appeared, but which I certainly would have, given a chance.

Never is the transition from off-the-grid to on-the-grid more apparent than in these days of late autumn, when the winter cold and dark are closing in on the Hoarfrost homestead, and our 6 80-watt solar panels are all but useless for about the next three months. (Those pie-in-the-skyers who would power the average upper-middle class North American home on solar and wind power alone, never mind manufacture any of our tools or toys without burning fossil fuels, just ought to try it in November, at, say, the latitude of Chicago or Toronto.)

Here, ensconced among the 1% or at least the 10%*  (which, lest we forget, includes everybody reading this blog, or so I would wager) light bulbs burn sixty or a hundred watts each and the Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Camrose Alberta is selling winter jackets with electric heating wires embedded in the fabric.  Electric clothing.  As if we didn’t have enough gizmos sucking up enough electricity every day already, now they would like us to plug our coats in at the end of the day.  Sheesh.

Scary thing, though, is that none of it really fizzes on me any more, as they say in Canada.  Meaning these contrasts, where clothes tumble dry in electric heat, where phones charge and thermostats do their thing and rubber-tired monsters hurtle in all directions — all as contrasted to that 30-year-old burn on the edge of McLeod Bay, that utter silence, that ancient outcrop,  that 600 or more miles northeast of me on that sunny cold day a week ago, surely the most remote remaining portion of the North American mainland.

I step in and out of two worlds.  Depend on the one to get by in the other.

And — I hope — still recognize, deep down, the vice versa.

Depend on the other to get by at all.

*December 7, 2006 A new study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University was launched earlier this week. The study shows the richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth. The research finds that assets of US$2,200 per adult placed a household in the top half of the world wealth distribution in the year 2000. To be among the richest 10% of adults in the world required US $61,000 in total assets, and US $500,000 in total assets was needed to belong to the richest 1%, a group which — with 37 million members worldwide — is far from an exclusive club.

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