Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Journey Outside and Back

The past 10 days feel more like 30. From knowing we would have to make a dash to Ontario, to doing it and being there, and back again: it's gone by so fast, and yet seemed like forever.

Each time we make the journey Outside (of the Yukon, that is), I am struck by just how remote we are here. As we speed along the winding highway carved out of a vast boreal forest, sometimes seeing nothing else moving but grouse for hours, I can't help but reflect on what this journey would have meant a mere 60 years ago. In winter, it would have meant more than a week on a dogsled, food packed for dogs and people alike, first aid kits, an ax, and your luggage; nights in little log-cabin roadhouses or canvas tents pitched under the flickering aurora. In short, this is not a trip one would have made lightly.

I am grateful that we can answer the call of family, that we are able to make it out of here with relative ease when we are needed. We take these things for granted: pick-up trucks with block heaters, paved highways and government crews to maintain them.

Thankfully, all is well back east.

Our drive home yesterday was mostly uneventful: while P and Aedan both slept, I slowed the truck as we passed a pair of elk at the forest's edge. A little further down the road, we bumped over a glacier that had appeared across the highway in the week since we'd made the trip down. It was a colour of blue that is curiously common only to thick, glacial ice and the Caribbean sea.

We arrived to find the house in a state, though...the housesitter had caught a whiff of propane (the pilot light had gone out on the propane fridge, but she didn't realize this) so she'd cracked open a door and then forgot about said cracked door...it was -10 C in here. The 3 jugs of water she'd left us were frozen solid, as was all of the food in the cupboards. The food in the freezer, however, was all thawed, because the pilot light went out. It was not a nice homecoming. It took about 4 hours to raise the temperature 20 degrees.

In the face of things like this, I count our blessings. A safe drive home. A fire that was still going (it could have been much colder inside if not for that). Groceries brought from Whitehorse. An incredibly adaptable baby who thought it was fun to toddle around the house in his parka.

The house is toasty now, we've opened our stockings and had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, using the last of the blueberries I harvested at summer's end.

It's good to be home, to slip back into the rhythm of my days.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Blue

Each day grows shorter; we spend more time in darkness than in the light. I find myself drawing inwards, my mind filled with projects and ideas for the coming months. I'm finding it difficult to extend myself outward, and I suppose that's been reflected in my infrequent trips to town, and my silence in this space.

I'm looking forward to the solstice, but I am a little sad this year, too. We'll be travelling, making an unexpected short trip to Ontario. I try to focus on the reason for this trip: being with family in a time of need. We didn't have any big plans for celebration here, for the solstice or for Christmas, but I am eager to begin our own traditions. I feel like that will be put off for another year. Oh well...

Que sera, sera.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

These days...

These days have been about staying warm. November ended on a chilly note, with lows of -44 C at night and "highs" of around -37 C for the few brief hours the sun is in the sky.

We had seemingly unending issues with our power supply, and both our main and backup generators made numerous trips to the mechanic. This made for some dark mornings, the house filled with flickering candle light, and a little time away from the computer. I quite enjoyed that respite. With a bit of ingenuity on P's part, I think we've got things sorted out and we're ready for the next cold spell.

Through that time I was so grateful that we weren't also dealing with frozen fuel lines (and therefore no heat) or frozen drain pipes, like so many of our friends in town. Our water never stops flowing from the blessed blue jugs, and our woodstove is always crackling warm.

The cold, clear skies began to cloud over two days ago, and today it is grey and warm, with a very light snowfall dusting over our tracks in the yard. I'm glad to have a break from the 40's...it is a cold that takes your breath away.

These twilight shrouded days, I find myself seeking light wherever I can. I find myself noticing the weak patches of sunlight that briefly shine through the windows, casting shapes and shadows onto the walls. I light candles in all the dark corners where the few electric lights don't reach, taking solace in this nightly ritual (which happens a little earlier each day). I look forward to the winter solstice, when we celebrate the return of the sun and the days gradually lengthening again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Simple Pleasures

The house is quiet; the babe has finally settled down for a nap. I hurry outside, gathering an armload of wood as the sun slips behind the hills, signalling an end to our brief days.

I stoke up the fire, and fill the chipped enamel basin with hot water from the kettle on the stove. I light candles on the washstand and strip off the layers of sweaters and knit shirts that are like a second skin I seem never to be free of these days. I bend my head over the basin, dip my cup into the clear water and pour it out over my hair. I dip and pour like this, soaking my hair and enjoying the sensations. I scrub my itchy scalp, water dripping down my forehead, over my shoulders and down my back.

I wrap my wet hair in a towel and carry the basin over to the couch before the fire. It is cold outside but I am warm, wearing a fresh pair of long underwear, pulled up at the ankles. I ease my feet into the water, clouded now with spent soap suds. I relax back into the cushions, watching the flames that fill the stove, consuming the wood I've just brought in. My feet are blissfully bare, tingling. I wiggle my toes, happy toes free of socks and slippers.

My hair curls as it dries in the heat of the fire and the last of the twilight fades from the room.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wild Imagination

The sun doesn't crest the hills 'til around 10 am, but once it does, it's a brilliant day. The trees stand shrouded in snow against a clear blue sky. It's cold today; the air warms to -35 C with whatever heat it can pull from the weak sun.

I haven't had the dogs out in a couple of days, so after lunch I pack the babe onto my back and we set out into the woods.

The trees are lit in a golden light, it hits them at close to a 90 degree angle; the sun is not high in the sky. It is quiet but for the crunch of my snowshoes on the trail. The dogs are far ahead, and Aedan has fallen asleep nestled down in our parka.

I come over a small rise and see the dogs up ahead, sniffing madly at something on the trail. As I approach, I see scattered tufts of fur. It is pale brown, white and soft grey. Suddenly, my walk takes on a sinister note. I scan around for tracks, for sign of the struggle, but I see only old, criss-crossing snowshoe hare tracks, and the clumsy wallows of my small dogs in the deeper snow.

The dogs disappear up ahead again, and I continue on, thinking that perhaps I am not the only predator to prowl along this path.

The silence of the forest is not so peaceful now: it takes on a new depth, seeming almost deliberate. What creatures watch me from the acres of brush and shadows all around? Every so often I stop, convinced I hear something creeping along behind me, its steps concealed beneath the noise of my snowshoes. I hold my breath and hear nothing.

Smaller trees are bent low under the weight of the undisturbed snow; they look like weird gnomes and mythical beasts frozen in time, or some bizarre topiary gone wild. Walls of spruce and gnarled old willow spring up in my path: the forest conspires to lead me astray. I stop again, listening. For a moment, the conspicuous silence presses around me. Then, the dog's bark echoes back to me. The baby wakes up and begins to cry. The path opens up again before me. I double back on my trail and we hurry home.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snapping Cold

That's how JJ Van Bibber describes this weather, in his book "I was born under a spruce tree" (which I'm reading now and loving).

Dawson is one of the coldest places on earth today!

Cold like this usually comes with clear, bright skies and sunshine; it's a nice trade off. But today it's a bit overcast: the sky is a patchwork of muted blue and white.

This morning, though, when I went to the outhouse around 7 am, was stunning. The stars were sharp, glittering points of light in the dark. I could see the Pleiades to the east, and a couple of incredibly bright stars (planets?) low on the horizon. A very faint aurora streaked across the sky. I stopped on the path to take it all in, shifting from slippered food to slippered foot, feeling the dry, cold air tingling in my sinuses.

It brings its problems, this cold, particularly living off grid like we do. Vehicles should be plugged in to start safely, but to do that we need to start up a generator first. Well, the generator wouldn't start this morning. P got his truck started anyway, though it wasn't easy. We've got a torch set beneath the generator now: hopefully it'll warm its insides enough start later today. We'll probably leave it running until things warm up above 30.

We'll be inside today, keeping our toes warm by the wood stove. I hope you're warm where ever you are today, too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Early Morning and Yarn Along

Waking up at 5 am sure makes for a long morning! The stars were still out as I stoked up the fire and got the house warm. A cup of raspberry leaf tea, a few rows of knitting and a few stories read to the babe. We've breakfasted and Aedan is already down for his morning nap. The breakfast dishes are washed, the floors are swept and Aedan's 1st mess of the day has been tidied, ready for the next one. My second cup of tea is steeping on the kitchen counter as I type this at 9 am, and it is only just beginning to lighten out. I'll have to wait another hour for enough sunlight to get a photo for Yarn Along.

I've given up on the Midsummer Night shawl. I think it was perhaps a little too much for my first real attempt at knitting lace. Also, and I hesitate to say this because I am a relative beginner (although I've known HOW to knit for many years), I think there were more errors in the pattern. I got stuck again, it wasn't making any sense...and then I dropped some stitches while unknitting/reknitting a row...and that's when I frogged the whole thing. I'm instead working on a much simpler lace pattern cowl. It's going very well. It's a short and easy repeat and it's knitting quickly.

I'm still making my way through the Harry Potter series; I'm onto the Goblet of Fire now. I do believe I'll give Harry a rest after this one, though. I'm itching to get into a book my friend loaned me called "I was born under a Spruce tree". It is a transcription of the oral history of a local man's life. He passed last winter, but boy has he left an amazing legacy. He photographed much of his life, too, so the book is rich not just with his spoken tale, but with the photos to document his life in the bush, on the creeks and in the gold mines all over this territory. 

What are you knitting and reading? Hop on over to Ginny's blog, Small Things, and yarn along with the rest of us!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Watch and Learn

I am continually amazed at how this babe learns. It is, by far, one of my most favourite things about sharing each day with him.

He picks up on things that I try and teach him, like sign language. But then there are the things that I haven't really taught him. I wonder: "How is he ever going to learn to do that?" And then one day he just...does it.

Like in the past week or two, he's learned how to eat with a fork or a spoon. When I first offered him cutlery, he would just play with it and then throw it on the floor. He'd either feed himself with his hands, or I would feed him. Lately, though, he's become very insistent that he hold the spoon himself. He would tap it in his bowl, push the food around, bring the empty spoon up to his mouth. Within days of doing that, he figured out how to scoop, and then how to maneuver the food up to his mouth, and now...he's mostly feeding himself!

I think, too, of his sleep habits. In the first 6 or 8 months of his life, I remember thinking: "Will he ever be able to sleep without me at his side?" I read books and listened to advice from other mamas, but I never really did anything, other than try to creep away once I'd put him down, and hurry back to his side when he awoke crying. One day, he stayed asleep for a half hour after I put him in the bed...then it was an hour, then two or three. And now I can put him down for a nap and have time all to myself--which is much appreciated!

It takes patience on everyone's part, but it's so wonderful to see that, with time, little ones will reach these milestones all on their own. I wonder what he'll learn next?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

This week, I have felt grateful for...

The health of my beautiful boy. It was one year ago this week that Aedan was diagnosed with neo-natal diabetes. It was such a scary time for us, and all week long the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who cared for him and for us have been on my mind. I am so thankful for their caring and their skill, and I am so, SO thankful that he is a happy, healthy baby today.

Tuesday night yoga classes. It is such a peaceful, positive time for this full time Mama!

All that P does for our family, from the big things like going in to work each day so that I can stay home, or getting up at 4 am to stoke the fire and heat up the downstairs, to the little things like remembering not to dump the contents of his pockets on the kitchen table. 

Clear blue skies, and starry nights.

Breaking new trail in my snowshoes while Aedan sleeps on my back.

The inspiration I find from the blog-world. I'm so grateful that there are so many people living the way they do, and sharing it with the rest of us!

"Meeting" kindred souls through blogging. 

Patience and perseverance.

Being able to let go of my stress over the mess and clutter of our home; taking small steps to make changes rather than trying to do it all in one afternoon!

Aedan's laughter.

The love of my friends and family. 

And today, on Remembrance Day, I feel the need to express my gratitude for the men and women who sacrificed their youth, their innocence, and often their lives to fight for the freedom of others. My poppa was one of those, though he lived through his war and was able to return to Canada and start a family. My wish is that someday, there will be no more wars to fight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yarn Along: Lace and Harry Potter

Today I'm joining  Ginny's Yarn Along, sharing what I'm knitting and reading.

I've started working on a lace-pattern triangular shawl: "Midsummer Night". I found the pattern on Ravelry, and the author stated that it was a great choice for beginners. A few days ago, I got completely stuck on one of the rows. The pattern just wasn't making sense compared to what I had on the needles. After many attempts at unknitting and reknitting the row, I finally realized that there was an error in the pattern. I added in two knit stitches before the final yarn-over, and everything worked out beautifully. It was such a great feeling when I finally figured it out! Other than that little bump in the road, I'm really enjoying knitting lace. The pattern requires just enough attention to keep it interesting...I definitely wouldn't work on this while watching a movie!

I've been making my way through the Harry Potter series. Can you believe I've never read it? I'm almost finished the 3rd book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It's an easy and very entertaining read. I'm going through the books quickly...that's one of my favourite things about winter. You don't have to make excuses to sit inside and read. 30 below and a foot of snow: need I say more?

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Over the last few days we've had quite a bit of snow. It's still snowing now as I type this post. It's a grey day, and it's been spent mostly indoors.

Yesterday, though, the snow stopped falling for the afternoon and it was just right for snowshoeing (and later, snow shovelling!)

I packed Aedan into my amauti (no tears this time!), strapped on my snowshoes, and away we went into the woods.

The closest I've got to a full length mirror...





Aedan got to do some exploring on his own!

Funny face!


Hanging with the dogs in the nicely shoveled walkway!


Hope you're enjoying your winter, whatever it may look like!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Learning to Eat Mindfully

I have a confession to make.

I am terrible for wolfing down my food.

Before I've swallowed one bite, I've got the next one ready to go on my fork. Meals that I've spent all afternoon preparing are often gone in 10 minute's time. I go for seconds only to regret it later. I'm sure I am not alone in this; in fact, I think it's something many North Americans are guilty of.

Like with everything these days, I am so aware of those two little brown eyes watching all that I do. I don't want Aedan to approach his food this way. I want him to learn to savour his meals; to approach food with respect and gratitude for where it came from, and for the work that goes into putting it on the table. I want him to listen to his body, and stop eating when he is no longer hungry.

And I want these things for myself, too!

So we've begun an experiment in mindful eating. Normally, our kitchen table is a catch-all for keys, spare change, mail, and little scraps of paper. Before, I would push all this aside to find space for our plates. Now, though, I clear all of this off and set two places for us, with place mats. We light candles (which is so lovely!) and we pause before we begin our meal. I like to take a moment to notice the aromas of the food, how it looks on the plate. We express gratitude for the work that went into the meal, and we might talk about where the food came from. Then, we begin.

After each bite, I set my fork down. I take the time to truly taste what is in my mouth, noticing the subtle flavours and texture. I chew my food thoroughly, pause for a moment, and then take another bite. I'm finding a few things through this way of eating: one, I enjoy my food so much more than before! And two, I feel fuller, sooner. I no longer go back for seconds, because I've thoroughly enjoyed my meal and I've given my stomach time to tell my head that it's had enough!

It feels so good to not only take the time to prepare meals from scratch, but to give them the time and attention they deserve in eating them, too!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Beginning new traditions

Having a little one has me spending lots of time around the holidays thinking about how I want to celebrate. It is my hope to create some new traditions imbued with meaning, ones that Aedan will cherish and carry on. I would like to celebrate in ways that link closely to the rhythm of the seasons, with a focus on the natural world rather than on "things".

I'm sure that one day, Aedan will want to dress up for Halloween, and I look forward to seeing what he dreams up. But for now, I'm trying to start something with a deeper significance. In many cultures around the world, this is a time to remember those who have passed on. It is a time to talk about the dead, to feel their spirits gathered close around us. It also marks the end of the old year: the harvest is in, the work of preserving it is over, and the fields lie fallow.

Here in the Yukon, the ground has been frozen for weeks and the rivers are not far behind. Each day is noticeably shorter than the last. We are headed in to a dark time, a time to snuggle in close to the fire, to dream of what's to come with the return of the sun at the Winter Solstice. It feels important to me to begin to mark these special days in some way: a measure of the seasons.

So on the 31st, at sunset, I lit a few candles around some photos of loved ones we wished to remember. I prepared a feast for dinner: roasted moose, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and zucchini patties (by special request). Today, Aedan and I will make our way down to the clearing where we buried Patsy, my cat who passed last spring, to pour some spring water over her grave. It feels so good to be making some new traditions, and I look forward to how they grow and change as my family does the same.

Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Samhain or All Souls Day...what traditions does your family have to celebrate this time of year?

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Something I am reminded of frequently as I go through my days with a little one is the importance of being flexible. No matter how much planning I might do, no matter how smoothly I may envision something playing out, Aedan invariably has other plans.

We imagine a lovely family portrait lit by the warm rays of the setting sun, but instead, Aedan is crying when we hold him, wanting only to run around on the grass waving a stick.....

I bundle us both up against the cold to take the dogs for a walk on a beautiful, clear afternoon, snuggling him into the pouch of my amauti parka, but for some reason Aedan is terribly uncomfortable on my back, and he cries until I cut the walk short.....

After dinner, I heat kettles of water to give him a nice bedtime bath in front of the wood stove, but after a few minutes in the tub, he begins to cry and lift his arms to me, ready to get out.....

It can be so frustrating to see my plans changed so completely, and at times it's hard not to take it personally.  I think I invest so much in the idea of an activity: how nice it will be to walk in the woods, packing my baby on my back, or give him a bath by the wood stove; I forget sometimes that he is developing his own preferences, and right now crying is the only way he has to voice a difference of opinion.

In the moment, trudging through the woods with a screaming baby on my back (or whatever the situation may be), I remind myself to take deep breaths, to have compassion and empathy for what this little person is feeling, to stay in the moment and not lament what could have or should have been. Because it's not always going to be just as I imagine. Aedan is not me, and he lives very much in the moment. 

I am learning to let go of all expectations, and just let things unfold as they will. When I do this, I end up experiencing some other beauty or joy that I hadn't planned on. 

I never imagined that a baby could teach me so much about life!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

All about Aedan

On our way to Ontario, we had a stopover in Vancouver, to check in with our "team" at the B.C. Women and Children's hospital. 

The appointment went really well: Aedan's A1C (a blood test that shows a 90-day average blood/glucose reading) puts him in a non-diabetic range. This means that his blood sugar is very well controlled with the 5 mg dose of Glyburide. If we continue to maintain these levels, his chances of suffering the long-term effects of diabetes are basically the same as a non-diabetic. 

He still has high readings in the mornings, though, often followed by a crash 2 hours after he takes his pill. We decided to try splitting his dosage up into 3 times a day: a 1/2 pill with breakfast, 3/4 mid-afternoon, and 3/4 before bed. Today is day 3 of this new routine: Aedan adapts so easily, but of course it's taking me some getting used to. 

It means if we're going out in the afternoon, I have to have a syringe with the dissolved pill prepared with me, plus a snack to go along with it. The morning and evening doses have been tricky, too, because he still hasn't gotten back onto a normal sleep schedule, after our travels.

I'm grateful, though, every day, that it's only this we have to deal with. In comparison to what other families go through, it seems incredibly easy. We're lucky that his particular form of diabetes is recognized and easily managed.

While we're on the topic of Aedan...he's learning so much every day! It is such a joy to be able to facilitate that learning, and to watch him practice new skills.

I mentioned in this post that he enjoys "putting" things...well, his putting has gotten quite refined just lately! He's begun to stack blocks (rather than just knocking them down), and he enjoys playing with a set of nesting cups. He's also learned to fit objects onto a peg, like these wooden rings. 


In the last 2 days, I've noticed him walking backwards: this he does (slowly and carefully) with a huge grin on his face. He's quite the stair climber, too!

Lastly, his signing just blows me away. He signs for milk and more....he uses more as a general purpose "I want" sign: he'll sign "more" and then point to something he desires. He also signs "dog", by patting his chest. It should be his leg he's patting. I read that it's common for babies to learn this sign by patting a different part of the body at first. He also signs for books. Now we're working on "hot", "eat", "drink", and "outside". 


He's also picked up a hilarious shrug from me, when something or someone disappears.

A parcel with his winter gear has arrived at the post office: we're off to town to pick it up today. I can't wait to watch him play in the snow!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Phew! We've just returned from 3 weeks of visiting family in Ontario, with a side trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, to visit with Aedan's doctors. I love love living in the Yukon, but getting in and out of this territory is a real ordeal!

But I will never complain about a chance to visit family.

It does my heart good to see Aedan playing with his grandparents, his aunties and uncles and cousins.
It does my body good to have a break from my own housework.
And it does my tummy good to savour the variety of foods we lack here in the North.

But it is always so good to finally come home! My feet were tired of walking on pavement, my eyes were tired of looking at endless tall buildings, and my ears were tired of the constant hum of a busy city.

It's lovely to look out the window and see only trees! Granted, the trees are now bare of leaves and covered in snow (whereas in Ontario, they were just beginning to burst into radiant autumn colour).

I missed the steady warmth of the wood stove, and the smell of baking bread. I missed the mountains and the quiet and even the cold!

And of course, I missed this blog, too! It's good to be back. I have lots of catching up to do!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Love letters from Toronto

Dear Blog,

I miss you terribly!

We are visiting family in Ontario right now. We'll be home in a week. I look forward to catching up with you then!


Bush Mama (in the big city)


Friday, September 28, 2012

This Moment - Bath Time

Today I'm joining Amanda of SouleMama for this moment,

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Licensed under Creative Commons

Last night around 3 am, I grudgingly stumbled outside to the outhouse. It had been overcast when we went to bed earlier, but when I looked up, I saw that the clouds had cleared off. I switched off my headlamp, and stood in the yard beneath a breathtaking canopy of stars.

Low on the horizon, I could see my favourite constellation, Orion. I love this one because it is so easy to spot, from anywhere in the world. The perfection in the way the belt stars line up blows my mind. And the total absence of light pollution where we live means that Orion's nebula is really easy to see with the naked eye, and even more stunning with magnification.

This constellation derives its name from Greek mythology. There are several versions of the story, but the one I've seen most often goes like this: Orion was a giant and a famed hunter, said to have descended from the sea-god Poseidon. Due to his heritage, it was believed he could walk along the bottom of the sea. 

He fell in love with a woman named Merope, who lived on the island of Chios. One night while drunk, he became violent and forced himself upon her. In anger, her father Oenopion blinded him. Orion made his way east, into the rays of the sun, which restored his sight. 

On his way back to the island to seek revenge, he met Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. They fell in love, and some stories claim she intended to marry him. Apollo, Artemis' brother, was concerned for her chastity, and so one day, while Orion was out walking in the sea, Apollo challenged Artemis to hit a black spot bobbing in the waves (Orion's head). Not realizing it was her love, Artemis rose to the challenge, and killed him. Grieved, she implored Zeus to immortalize Orion in the stars. 

Orion is followed by Sirius, the dog star, and this is another of my favourites. One of the brightest objects in the sky, Sirius sparks and flashes with colour. In mythology, Sirius is one of Orion's favourite hunting dogs.

Am I just a total geek, or do you have a favourite constellation, too? What do you love to see in the night sky?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Doubts and Fears

This post has been brewing for a couple of weeks now. I just need to write it out, work through it, and move past it.

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was loving my hopes and dreams of the future?

On days like that, I imagine a huge vegetable garden in high summer, overflowing with ripening vegetables. There are chickens pecking around between the beds, eating the bugs off the plants, clucking contentedly.

And then, magically, it is fall time and those chickens are all dead, their feathers disappeared, the meat neatly packed into a chest freezer to feed us through the winter months, alongside moose, butchered and packed.

The produce has all been processed. It lines my (currently non-existent) pantry in neatly labelled mason jars, or in just as neatly labelled bags in the freezer.

I am settled in front of the woodstove, a stew simmering away in the cast iron dutch oven, knitting, while Aedan plays with a sibling or two quietly at my feet. I am assured in my self-sufficiency, in my ability to provide chemical free, sustainable and ethical food for my family, year-round.

Missing from that idyllic snapshot are the hours spent building those raised beds, planting them and tending them all summer long, hauling water for them (because we don't have water on the property). Missing is my fear of being up close to birds, of handling birds. Missing is the beheading of the chickens, the blood, the feather plucking. Missing are the inevitable failures I will encounter along the way.

I keep asking myself: can I really do this? Do I have what it takes? Do I truly understand the amount of work that will be required of me? I'm not sure I do.

The only way to find out will be to jump in and get my feet wet.

The books all say to start small, and of course I know that. I must hold that in my mind. A couple of raised beds next year. Our food for the summer months, certainly, and hopefully some put by for the winter, too. Maybe a few chickens. Maybe.

Or maybe I'll just learn to catch a fish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

These days, I'm lovin'....

The way the setting sun lights the birch and aspen a flickering gold against the darkening sky

Warm sweaters and thick socks

Hoping and dreaming of the future

The scent of snow on the wind

Friends stopping by to visit

Sloppy baby kisses

Boards going up on all the seasonal businesses in town; quieter streets and bittersweet goodbyes

The closeness of community, and knowing I've found home 

Beautiful music

Cooking comfort food

Devouring book after book after book...

What are you lovin' these days?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots in her Sunday tradition.

This week, I've been grateful for...

-Stepping outside at dawn to see that the clouds had cleared off to reveal a slender crescent moon, with Venus shining just below.

-P being able to take Tuesday (my 29th birthday!) off of work. We spent the day at home doing a bit of clean-up in the yard, but mostly relaxing and playing with the babe.

-Going out for a delicious dinner Tuesday night, of wild salmon and roasted local farm veggies.

-Someone giving us a box full of moose meat. I am so, so glad we'll be able to eat some wild meat through the winter!

-Someone else giving us cabbage, spaghetti squash and fingerling potatoes from their garden. I'm making moose-meat cabbage rolls for dinner tonight, with a side of roasted spaghetti squash!

-Aedan taking longer and longer naps, without me having to be in the bed with him. It gives me some much needed time to myself! And I'm also so grateful that we allowed him to reach this milestone at his own pace, instead of sleep-training him.

-Forest walks with golden leaves falling all around.

-Waking up to the sound of rain on the roof this morning.

-Good conversation with like-minded friends.

-All of the love I feel every day from friends and family.

-Being given such a wonderful, unexpected opportunity to embark on a homesteading journey. More and more I realize that's where we're headed...we've got the space to do it. It just feels so overwhelming at times, and although I've always had vague notions of "making a living simply living", I've never put much thought or research into what that entails. I look forward to a winter of doing lots and lots of reading and research!

-Walks to the spring to have a drink.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Out for a Stroll

I just love that Aedan is on his own two feet these days. That means he can explore the world at his own level and his own pace! This afternoon we took a little stroll in the woods around our house.

Here we go!

I just love this action shot of Cilla running up to Aedan!

Stopping to pick a berry!

We found an old boot! There is lots of decaying bits in the woods from when they were building the Dempster highway back in the 70's.

Hi, Mama!

Hi, doggies!

Beautiful fall grasses.

Fireweed all gone to seed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Birthday Baby

It's hard to believe that one year ago, I gave birth in the backseat of our car, in front of the Whitehorse General Hospital. That one year ago, I held my new baby boy to my breast for the first time, while P looked on from the bedside, both of us in total awe that we created this tiny human being.

And now, a year later, we're both still in awe, as he changes every day. How did the time go by so quickly?

At one year old, Aedan is walking all over the place; he hardly ever crawls now.

He loves to play "put": we find he puts things in the oddest places. Today I found a container of bay leaves in the wood box. We find his blocks in our water jugs and pot lids in the grey water bucket beneath the sink.

He babbles almost constantly, from the moment he wakes to the moment he sleeps. He tries to say "dog", and he repeats "guck" when I tell him something is yucky. He can make the sign for milk, and he does an approximation of the sign for "more".

He takes a real interest in his books now. He loves to pull them all off the shelf, and will crawl into my lap to have one read to him. He turns the pages himself, carefully studying each picture, and will sign for more when we finish.

Aedan eats almost anything. For his birthday supper I made curried lentils with sweet potato and cauliflower, what I judge to be one of his favourites. He also loves oatmeal, broccoli, bananas, kiwi, wild berries, and tofu.

He makes the silliest faces these days, for no apparent reason other than to get a laugh. He loves to play peek-a-boo, either with a blanket or scarf over his face, or crouching down beside the couch and popping back up again. He points at everything, waiting for us to bring the world alive with names.

He's my favourite person to hang out with. He makes me laugh, he drives me crazy sometimes, he reminds me to slow down and take each moment as it comes.

Happy 1st birthday, my sweet boy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yarn Along

I'd been planning to do a post about knitting, and thought I might as well Yarn Along with Ginny of Small Things.

My nana taught me to knit when I was younger. It's something I've done off and on throughout my life: I've never been terribly passionate about it. Maybe it's my tendency to never finish something I start. I could fill a closet with all the projects I've cast-on and never completed!

Or maybe it's that I get careless, and rush to complete something, never doing a gauge swatch, making mistakes and knitting on, then never wear it.

Lately, though, I've been knitting again and really enjoying it. I've been taking time to follow patterns carefully and finish them so that I'll actually get use out of what I knit. Right now, I'm knitting the Iced cardigan, from an old edition of Knitty. I'm using some yarn I purchased months ago to knit a different cardigan, that I never actually started. See? Told you I'm terrible at this! But so far it's knitting up rather quickly, and I enjoy having something to relax my mind and my focus in the evenings, after Aedan has gone to bed.

My nana doesn't knit anymore, and her once sharp mind is gradually being decayed by dementia. That makes it even more important to me to carry on with this skill she taught me years ago. Maybe one day Aedan will want to learn, too--he certainly enjoys playing with my yarn!

I started reading "French Kids Eat Everything" last week, and I have to admit, I'm not loving it. It's about a woman who moves with her family to France for a year, and learns a vastly different food culture. There are many interesting points, and the French definitely go to great lengths to ensure their kids learn how to appreciate real, nutritious, beautiful food. There is just something about the rigidity of it all that doesn't sit right with me...kids staying up til midnight at their parents' dinner parties, or the idea that kids should be seen and not heard...there are some great tips to take away from it, though!

Yesterday I dove into "The Hunger Games" (on my e-reader, not a very exciting photo), and I can hardly put it down! The knitting might go on the back burner for a day or two...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.

This week I've felt grateful for... 

-4 days with P all to ourselves! Running his own business can be so liberating at times, but it's also very demanding. All summer long, he's had no one to do the office work in his stead, so he's been going in every day. It's so hard on us all. But he finally got some relief, and we took a trip down to Whitehorse. We took Aedan to the park, did a little shopping, ate some delicious food, but most importantly, spent a whole bunch of time together! 

 -Coming home. It's good to get away every once in awhile, but I'm always so happy to be home. 

 -Fires in the woodstove keeping the house nice and toasty. 

 -P building a gate around the woodstove and across the stairs to the loft. Now I can relax with Aedan toddling all over the place! 

 -Apples and grapes at the farmer's market this week! Amazing! I'm also so grateful to John and Sarah Lenart, who are taking chances and dedicating so much time and effort to growing experimental plants in the Klondike. 

 -Aedan making his first sign! I started signing with him not too long ago, and this week he began making the sign for "milk". It is so neat to see him really communicating with us. 

 -This funk I've been in the past few days finally lifting. I don't know where it came from, but it was not fun, and neither was I. It suddenly cleared today, though, and I feel calm and patience returning. 

 -Friends sharing moose meat with us...I've got a roast in the oven right now that smells delicious! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gathering rose hips

After a morning of grey skies and rain, the sun broke free of the clouds and cast its warm rays into our yard, illuminating the birch and poplar leaves, and making the damp grass glisten. The wild rose hips, a vibrant red and a little shriveled from the first hard frost, hung like precious jewels from the prickly rose bushes.

I left Aedan playing contentedly on the porch while I filled my little bucket with these juicy, vitamin C rich wild fruits. I could hear the Sandhill cranes winging far over head, their grr-oo call softened by the distance. The golden leaves were falling silently around me: such a peaceful autumn moment.

I was surprised to learn that 3 rose hips contain more vitamin C than an orange! It's so strange how we immediately think of oranges when we think of vitamin C...but there are many rich sources of this important vitamin! In her book "The Boreal Herbal", Beverley Grey writes that rose hips are antispasmodic, and can be used in a decoction to treat menstrual cramps.

The seeds inside the hips can be irritating to the digestive tract...traditionally, they were used to help expel parasites. People sometimes call rose hips "itchy bum" for this reason!

I'm drying my rose hips to use in tea over the winter, but they can also be used in jams and jellies, or made into a syrup. I might try that next year!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday:

Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.

This week, I've been grateful for...

-A wonderful visit from an old friend, Justine. It's amazing how we can just fall into things as though we'd never been apart. It was so great to see her getting to know Aedan, to share meals or a pot of tea, to go hiking...just to have her around!

-Finally getting one raised bed built, with Justine's help. It feels like there is so much work left to do before the snow flies, but I'm so happy to have been able to cross one thing off the list.

-Sunshine lighting up the changing leaves, making them glow golden.

-Delicious, fresh halibut that friends caught in Alaska, for dinner one night.

-Bonfires on dark nights.

-Refreshing afternoon naps with the babe.

-An abundance of rosehips in our yard!

-Getting out to Tombstone Territorial Park. I sometimes take for granted that I live only a half hour's drive from this absolutely stunning place. I was reminded this week that I need to get out there more frequently. It is so good for my soul!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Today dawned cold and clear, with a frost laying many of the plants in the yard low. As the sun crept higher and higher over the horizon, the air warmed and it was a perfect fall day for a hike, so Justine, Aedan, the dogs and I piled into my car and headed out to Tombstone Territorial Park.

As the mountain ranges came into view, we were shocked to see snow on the peaks! It seems so early! But I suppose if it was cold enough for a frost here, it's cold enough for snow on the mountains.

We were also really surprised to learn that we'd just missed the peak of the autumn colours. The changes along the Dempster highway and in the park happen so fast. The tundra changes seemingly overnight, and within a few days the reds, deep purples, golden yellows and oranges are just not quite as intense. It was still a stunning day, though.

We decided to hike the Goldensides Trail, about 2 km past the Interpretive Center. It was a busy day, with a group of four and another of two on the trail ahead of us, and a single lady with her (gorgeous, huge) dog behind us. We let her pass.
The views along this entire hike are spectacular: there are no trees to get in the way! We stopped often just to take it all in, and to snack on the juicy, sweet moss berries, too!

It always feels so energizing to get out and hike in the mountains. They have such a serene power. I can't help but reflect on the thousands of years that they have stood, largely unchanged, while the much smaller, shorter lives of animals, plants and people have ebbed and flowed around them. Mountains seem so changeless, so immortal to me. It is hard to imagine the landscape without them.