Time moves different in the “Grand Nord” of Quebec. It’s not like the city – where things are expected to be on time and everyone rushes around trying to meet that expectation. People know that it will happen when it happens and there’s no point trying to rush things up here. You cannot rush the winter away, it is going to stay as long as it likes, probably until May. You cannot rush the train with the supplies you need to get a project done, with the week’s food supply or with the mail you’ve been waiting weeks for. It has a long mountainous journey to go on. You cannot rush the dog who has decided to sit in the middle of the road sniffing something, he knows all the trucks here will slow down for him and he’s on the scent of something. You cannot rush the people because their sense of time is different, it does not follow clocks or calendars. It follows the seasons and the weather, the animals and nature, and their own internal sense of timing.
So you let yourself slow down too.
For some reason the clocks never have the right time here. On the weekend I will set all them all to the correct time; the battery run clock on the wall, the clock on the stove, the clock radio by my bedside, even my laptop computer gets out of sync. But within a few days they are all off again, some a few minutes ahead, others behind and as the week progresses they get further and further off track of the actual time. So that most days I feel like I am in a weird time warp, each room with a different time. Now I’m not even sure anymore what time it really is… I go by the time on my inactive cell phone which seems to move forward consistently I carry my cell phone with me even though there is no service up here, just for the time or at least the sense that I have some time that is right even if I don’t know for sure.
We are not sure why the clocks do not work. I’ve heard it’s because the electricity runs slower, but even the battery run clocks fall behind or jump forward. It fits the setting though; people here also seem to have a different sense of time than in the city. People rarely rush or worry about being on time. It’s a different pace of life, a different way of being in a remote northern area. It takes time to get used to this, coming from the city where every minute counts. I used to run around worrying about catching the bus, getting to an appointment on time, getting to class and work, getting my work done by the end of the day.
There are positives and negative to this time-less way of being, but at the time when I first came to the north it was exactly what I needed to calm my super tense stressed out self that had been working 3 part time jobs while attending University full-time. I feel much calmer here than I was the last few months that I was in the south (and by south I mean a big city in Canada, but in the north we call everything below us “the south”). I’ve always been impatient and restless wanting things to happen, eager to see people and do things, and hating to wait. This can be so hard when waiting for people I care about who have been laid off to return to the north which may or may not happen because of the unpredictability of their work. It’s hard this time of year waiting for winter to end because it feels like it’s already gone on forever. It’s hard waiting for the next step of my life because after 3 years of being here I’ve started to feel my life is on hold and I realize it’s time move on and begin the next adventure of my life.
But after time I’ve started to change too. Like the clocks I’ve started to lose my sense of time. I’ve stopped paying so much attention to it and stopped needing to know what time it is at all times, and stopped worrying so much about when things will happen. I don’t get as stressed about being on time, and I don’t worry about when other people will show up. Ultimately I cannot really control time or the way that others follow it. Things happen when they happen, people come when they come and the only thing I can control is what I make of each moment – what I put into it and what I take out of it.