Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Feathered Reminder

Over the past few months, I've let my birdwatching fall by the wayside. When I go out walking, I rarely take my binoculars with me, and I've definitely not been on many outings with birding as the sole purpose.  But the last couple of days, the birds have taken it upon themselves to remind me of why I love this pass-time so much, of how exciting it can be to see a new species, of how much I love the sound of birdsong, and of the thrill of seeing something unexpected.

I suppose I'll start with my thrill...a few days ago, there was a female Rufous Hummingbird hanging out in our yard! I'd been having a crappy day, was overwhelmed by all of this "stuff" I felt I had to get done before leaving for Whitehorse. P finally convinced me to just sit in the sunshine and relax, and it was when I'd finally settled down to that that a tiny little bird buzzed in and out of my line of sight. I called out in surprise "a hummingbird!" but it was gone as quick as it had appeared. I was feeling it was some kind of a sign, and didn't expect a return visit, but it came and went over the next hour or so. I was able to get a good look at it perched in a slender birch tree near the porch, and P got to see it, too. The Rufous is the only hummingbird listed on the Dawson bird list, it's marked as casual,  meaning there have been at least 2 sightings, but not every year and no confirmed breeding record. She was investigating the geraniums and the fireweed, but I don't think she found much nectar there. I saw her again the next morning, flitting around, but haven't seen her since. I hope she's moved on to warmer climes!

That same day I noticed a female Three-toed Woodpecker in the yard, too. I remembered to take my binoculars on my walk yesterday and saw a male Varied Thrush--such a beautiful bird! Just now I was sitting on the porch and saw a female Yellow-rumped Warbler and a male Wilson's Warbler, as well as heard a woodpecker in the trees.

One of my favourite signs of autumn is the Sandhill Cranes heading south. I'd been wondering when we'd see and hear them take their leave, and just yesterday, over the course of the entire afternoon, I think I probably noted something like 100 of them, winging overhead. I love the sound they make as they fly, a sort of rattling "gar-oo-oo". They fly really high, sometimes too high to even see, but you can always hear that call when they pass overhead.

Have the birds begun to migrate in your area, too?

Monday, August 22, 2011


Yesterday I said goodbye to my mom, dad, aunt and gramma, who have been visiting for the last week. I had such a wonderful visit with them, especially since I didn't have to work. In the past, I've only been able to have a few full days off to spend with them. We shared meals, went on a few small hikes, had a bonfire, listened to some live music, and just hung out! I feel so lucky to have family that make the long and costly trip up here to visit me every couple of years. I'm grateful, too, to have had the opportunity to share my chosen home with my gramma. She's in the early stages of Alzheimer's, something her mother died with. It's always been Gramma's greatest fear that she'd end up the same way, and it makes me so sad to see that fear coming true. I am thankful that she still knows who I am. Though much about her has changed, I'm thankful to still see the woman I've always known and loved shining through. Gramma has always been so full of life, so fun-loving and easy-going, with a wonderful sense of humour and she retains these traits even now. Spending time with her over the last week has reminded me how important it can be to live moment to moment. Every day is a new day for her, everything is fresh and nothing is taken for granted.

I'm also grateful that my family could be here for the baby shower my friend held for me. We had a beautiful afternoon, sitting outside in the sun (when it finally broke through the clouds). It was so nice to get together with all the women that I love, share stories and nibblies and laughter. I'd hoped to make a birthing necklace, and asked everyone to bring a special bead to contribute, but I wasn't sure how it would go over. Beads aren't the easiest thing to come by in Dawson, or so I thought...but I was pleasantly surprised at the response. Everyone had one to share! Some very beautiful beads, many of them with a story to go along. Dawson women are certainly resourceful! I've collected all the beads in a pretty little blue pouch, and I plan to make the necklace while I'm sitting around in Whitehorse, waiting for baby to arrive.

Speaking of that, I'll be 38 weeks on Friday, and I should be making my way down to Whitehorse that day or shortly after. I'm frustrated that I have to leave my home at the time when all I want is to be in it, but we don't have a midwife in Dawson and we're not "allowed" to birth our babies here. However, keeping in the spirit of gratitude, I am grateful to know that the Whitehorse General Hospital is so open to letting a woman have the birth of her choosing. I can ask to be left alone with my partner and my doula, and they'll be happy to comply. I'm also very thankful that I found a house-sit, rather than having to live in a hotel for 2 or 3 weeks. This will make the disruption in my life a little easier to bear!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Autumn approaches....

Not even the middle of August and already I see the signs of fall all around....

  • Changing foliage...on the drive to and from Whitehorse earlier this week, we saw a few birches that had gone completely yellow already. The ones around the house look like they're on the verge. The willows have been turning a burnt orange and brown for awhile now, but the colour seems deeper, somehow, these days.
  • Berries! Raspberries are definitely over, but with the temperature hovering around freezing in the early mornings, I'd guess it's almost time for cranberries and rosehips, too.
  • A definite chill in the air. I love this about autumn...especially on a bright sunny day, when the temperature is around 15 degrees C and there's a bit of a breeze.
  • Dark nights, stars in the sky, a big, beautiful full moon lighting my way to the outhouse...soon the aurora should make an appearance!
  • People working their final shifts, making plans to leave town, getting ready to go back to school...
  • Fires in the woodstove! We lit one two nights ago and are still getting some heat from it. That's the Blaze King for ya...

  • ....and, of course, the number one sign that autumn is approaching: my growing belly! I'm 35 + weeks in this photo, taken at Miles Canyon in Whitehorse. I'm getting anxious to hold my baby in my arms, to get him or her home and settled. To get bundled up and go for walks in the woods with the doggies. 

I'll be heading down to Whitehorse for my "confinement", as I like to call it, on August 29th. Holy smokes, baby'll be here before you know it!! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birth plans

A couple of days ago, I sent a draft copy of my birth care plan to my doula for review. She got back to me with some really good questions and further information which has got me thinking. As I look at the plan as I'd originally written it, I realize that I made a lot of concessions, particularly when it comes to interventions like induction and pain medications.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I started reading Ina May Gaskin's book Spiritual Midwifery, which I found in a cupboard behind the bar, of all the strange places. The first part of this book is a collection of hippy homebirth stories. While at first I giggled at all the pyschedelic, far-out language, I realize now the importance of these stories. Many of the concessions I was making in my plan had to do with the "normal" progression of labour. For example "IF there is no change in dilation after 4 or 5 hours, THEN administer prostaglandin gel" or "IF I become tired during a long labour, THEN narcotics may be used". But as long as my baby and I are under no real stress, in no real danger, who is to say how long a "normal" labour should last? Those ladies giving birth in their homes 30 or 40 years ago (and the women before who gave birth in their homes, cabins, birth tents, far back do you want to go?) weren't concerned with how far their cervix was dilated and effaced, or with how they were progressing. Why should I be? Instead, I think I'd like to trust, fully and completely trust, that my body can do this, that I can do this, in my own time.

I think I'd like to defer vaginal exams during labour (or have the option to request one if I choose). I would like to be left alone, myself and my family and my doula. I don't want to have to lie down on my back and have my body invaded by a stranger every hour or couple of hours, to satisfy the doctor's curiosity regarding my cervix. I feel like this will slow things down for me. I feel like it will be akin to watching a kettle, waiting for it to boil. A watched pot NEVER boils, didn't your nana ever tell you that? If I'm not watching the clock, but rather am following my body's own rhythm and pace, I won't get to this point of feeling "stuck" in labour...I won't feel the need to request induction or pain meds.

There are so many factors that need to be considered, researched, carefully weighed before entering into a hospital birth. So many procedures that are routine and often not questioned, that I'm questioning now. Beyond my own care during labour and delivery, I'm now considering the battery of drugs and tests that could potentially be administered to my newborn baby. Vitamin K injections, eye drops, blood's good to be informed, and I'm so glad my doula got me asking more questions!

I don't have a real choice between home or hospital birth. I pretty much have to have a hospital birth because I live in rural Yukon, because midwives are not covered (I heard of one woman in town who had a home birth in Whitehorse...she had to rent out an entire B&B, rent a birth tub the tune of $10,000) while I must go to the hospital facility to give birth, it doesn't necessarily mean that I have to go along with all of their routines and procedures. I am in full control of this experience, and I will have the the birth experience that I desire!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Well, it's been far too long since I've updated, but I'd like to get back into a regular habit. Mom, I'm sure that'll make you happy!

First, a quick update of the past few months. Back in April, when I last posted, I started to have a bit of a melt-down over the uncertain living situation. I felt very unsure and unsettled, and came to realize that what I really needed was a full commitment from P : namely, to be co-habiting. I reasoned that if we were going to be together and raise a child together, it only made sense to be in one place. I was reluctant to move in to his house, partly because he was reluctant to give up bachelorhood, and partly because he lives 40 km outside of town. Our closest neighbours are about a 7-10 minute drive down the Klondike highway in either direction.

We took the plunge mid-May, and things have been going surprisingly well since. P is adjusting really well to sharing his space with me. I absolutely love living out here. It's beautiful, peaceful and full of potential. I am surrounded by nature's beauty. At night I fall asleep listening to the wind in the spruce trees, or rain on the tin roof (lots of that this summer), and in the mornings I wake up to the thrushes singing in the forest that surrounds us.

Did I mention the rain? It seems that's all we've had this summer. The wild grasses are insanely high around the house....I've got plans to clear it all out and next year put in a proper lawn (which I may live to regret, but I want a soft place to lay out a blanket and play with baby!) and some gardens, too, flowers AND vegetables!

Another thing the rain has brought about in abundance this summer is FUNGUS! I took some pictures of the many kinds growing in the woods - not an easy feat with a curious puppy trailing along behind me.

Meet Pete, the newest addition to our family!

On to the fungus:

Those are just some of my favourites. I'm amazed at the variety in size, shape, colour and texture! Some of them look like coral to me, and are actually classfied as "coral fungus" in my field guide. I love to see them poking up through the detritus on the forest floor, slowly and surely nudging aside the earth and the carpet of rotting leaves and needles, unfolding in the dappled light. 

I'm not sure how I feel about the AutoCollage program, but I guess it's a nice, compact way to display a bunch of images!

Okay, enough of the computer. Time to enjoy the sunshine! So far, August has been beautiful...sunny, breezy, no rain in three days!