A community of people coming together, a beautiful outdoor setting, delicious food and fun chatter late into the night – all of those and more made for a particularly special Scottish Feast this year! The feast included several island firsts – the first time we had real haggis thanks to the Grabowskis from Whitehorse, the first time the feast was outside thanks to the lovely sunny weather, and some pretty innovative hoola hoop action, when we kicked a ball around whilst hoola hooping!
Though planned at the last minute and without much time to prepare, the feast definitely did not disappoint, and it’s always impressive how events like this come together – everyone contributes, and then we get to share the festive atmosphere that follows! The feast brought together Team Drone, the AWI crew, Yukon Parks rangers Edward and Ricky, as well as the Yukon Government Heritage Crew – we come from all over Canada and the world, but this summer, we got to share the beauty and weather unpredictability and occasional challenges of Qikiqtaruk together.
First came the haggis, and then the speeches! Isla piped in the haggis, which Ricky then cut with the ulu –a traditional Inuvialuit knife. The haggis was a success – for some of us, it was the first time trying haggis, for those of us living in Edinburgh, it was a nice reminder of home. Then came the speeches and recitations by all members of the table. Being allocated a speech to give on the spot was a surprise for those of us that hadn’t been to a Scottish Feast before, but everyone did a great job, and there were many laughs, thanks to jokes, interpretive dancing and poems!
We also gave the rangers this year’s Team Shrub t-shirts, and for the first time ever, the Team Shrub hats or toques – to use the Canadian word for them! This year’s design was mostly generated by code in R – in particular our map illustrating where we all are from, and which field sites we are going to – Qikiqtaruk or Kluane. The front of the t-shirt features “Team Shrub” written in all the languages we speak on the team – English, French, German, Inuvailuktun, Bulgarian, Spanish, Finnish, Danish, etc. Sadly we ran out of time to add Polish, spoken by our most recent addition to the team, Informatics Master’s student Karol! Next t-shirt! The Team Shrub hats are nice and warm, though for next year we might explore hats that have an insect-repellent coating!
We loved hearing about the finds of paleontologist Liz, and we couldn’t resist showing her some of the bones we’ve found – one find was particularly exciting, though we didn’t quite realise it at the time. Isla picked up a bone from what she thoughts was the leg of caribou from Slump D as we were on the run from the epic storm – it was a very big bone fragment, though it didn’t really give off a mammoth vibe, which is what we were hoping to find! Turns out the bone is from a Pleistocene horse, and more interestingly, the bone is, we think, only the second bone found on Qikiqtaruk that was found inland and not on the beach! It has now been documented and shipped to Whitehorse for radio carbon dating… One day we will find out how old it really is, telling us what animals were living on this island, back at the end of the last ice age perhaps.
This year’s sporty activity was also inspired by Liz who had made two hoola hoops to bring to the island – most of us had a go at the hoola hoops, and Gergana still has bruises from some enthusiastic knee hoola hooping. We then hung out by the fire, as the sun was first setting and then rising – bathing the island in a beautiful golden light – a lovely evening to spend together in appreciation of our time on Qikiqtaruk!