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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Trip to Lalo Land

Keno City, that is.

I'll begin at the beginning. 
A dear friend of mine is visiting from St John's right now. We were offered a chance to stay overnight in someone's guest cabin in Keno. 
Who turns down offers like that?
Not us!

Early Saturday afternoon, three of us ladies piled into a car with babe, dog and a backpack full of fresh garden bounty, and hit the Klondike Highway to Keno.

We were following some typical Yukon directions: 
"Park in so-and-so's yard, go around the left side of their garden, then follow the trail down the hill for about a half kilometer"

As we came down the trail, we could hear the sound of a creek rushing down the hill, and see smoke from a bonfire, curling up through the trees. We had arrived in Lalo Land!

We were greeted by Ed, our host, and the lucky owner of the mineral rights to these old mining claims. He discovered this place about 3 years ago: two cabins hidden in out of control willow. He staked the claims and began fixing up the cabins and clearing the brush. His work has paid off: it is absolutely beautiful! 

The cabin we stayed in (his cabin, as the guest cabin was being used by a couple who were doing some work for him) was small and well kept, with a sod roof and moss chinking along the back wall.

Soon after we arrived, a light rain began to fall. We all tucked into the cabin to get dinner started while Ed played his guitar. Before long, the sun came out, and we moved out onto the porch, lit by the last warm rays of the dying day. 

We all sat around a huge bonfire, enjoying its heat in the cool evening. 
Aedan stayed up way past his bedtime, but we were still the first ones to retire for the night...

And of course, we were the first ones to wake up the next morning! Not wanting to wake everyone else up, I bundled us up and we wandered around the property. 
A light frost had settled on the ground, and it was cold and damp as we sat by the creek. Aedan was mesmerized by the water coursing over the rocks!

Once everyone else was awake, we packed our gear and headed out. 
We wanted to drive up to sign post hill to see the amazing view before heading home to Dawson.

What a beautiful evening spent with friends!

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Moment

Today I'm joining Amanda at Soule Mama 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, savor and remember.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thoughts on Radical Homemakers

"It is time we come to think of our homes as living systems. Like a sour-dough starter, the home's survival requires constant attention. A true home is inhabited by souls who live, breathe, eat, think, create, play, get sick, heal and get dirty. It will wither in an antiseptic condition. A true home pulses with nonhuman life--vegetable patches, yeast, backyard hens, blueberry bushes, culturing yogurt, fermenting wine and sauerkraut, brewing beer, milk goats, cats, dogs, houseplants, kids' science projects, pet snakes and strawberry patches."  -Shannon Hayes, from "Radical Homemakers"

I picked up this book after my friend Erin recommended it. It seemed like a good time in my life to read a book like this: the end of my maternity leave was looming, and I was struggling with the decision to go back to work.

Radical Homemakers, written by Shannon Hayes, is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the history of domesticity, and details how our culture shifted away from a home-based economy, where both partners of a marriage took part in homemaking. With the advent of the industrial revolution, men were increasingly taken into the factories to earn money for their wives to buy the goods being mass-produced.

(The industrialization of our food supply is something I've been giving a lot of thought to lately, and I find this paradox particularly interesting...that we must work long hours outside of the home to earn the money to go out and buy convenience foods that are quick to cook and to eat, because we no longer have the time to prepare a meal-let alone grow the food that goes into it!-because we're overworked.)

The second part of the book discusses the "how" of radical homemaking, using ideas from a sampling of homemakers interviewed for the book. Shannon discusses the changes we need to make in our mindset and in our lifestyles in order to begin moving towards a radical homemaking lifestyle.

I think it's an interesting comment on our society that the idea of homemaking, the idea of growing and preserving one's own food, building one's own home, and consuming much less "stuff", has become a radical one. It wasn't all that long ago that this was all the norm. In the book, Shannon discusses ways to reclaim these domestic skills, because there is certainly a gap in the knowledge. I find this in my own situation: my mother grows a beautiful flower garden, but I know nothing about growing vegetables. I was lucky in that she did some canning, so I understand the basics of it, but there is still so much knowledge to be regained. I love the idea of reaching out to the community around us, seeking out those with the skills we wish to possess and learning from them. Here in Dawson, there are a lot of people who hunt, fish, trap, forage and grow their own food. There is a really rich skill-set to learn from!

At the beginning of my year of maternity leave, I had no idea what to do with myself at home (other than nurse the baby and nap when he did!) But now, as I begin to do more and more myself, cooking from scratch in particular, I'm realizing that this is really a full time job.

The book talks a lot about both partners foregoing work outside the home to work within it, and I really wish that was a possibility for us. I am so grateful that P works hard at his business. It affords us the chance to travel outside of the territory a couple times a year; but when I look around our place at all of the things that need to be done, that I can't necessarily do, I feel sad. Running his own business, he often works long hours, and when he does get some time at home, he's often too tired to do much of anything. Eventually the hope is that he won't need to be there as much, and can spend more time at home, but for now, it pulls much of his time and attention.

Radical Homemakers gave me much to think about. It is so important that we begin to measure our wealth in something besides monetary terms. To be rich in time, in family, in friends, in community, in good food, seems so much more fulfilling than a fat bank account, new cars in the driveway, new clothes in the closet...I never thought I would feel so empowered in my decision to be a homemaker!

You can visit Shannon's website, Radical Homemakers, to learn more.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

I am joining Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots in her Sunday tradition.

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

Tuesday night yoga class. It's such a positive, relaxing and strengthening time all to myself!

Picking wild blueberries. 

The sound of rain on the tin roof,

and a tin roof that no longer leaks!

The farmer's market in Dawson and the growers and crafters who make it happen every Saturday.

A bag filled with fresh, local produce!

Friends helping me keep an eye on Aedan as he gets faster on his feet.

The autumn colours just beginning to show.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blueberry Picking

One of the things I love about summer where we live is the berry-picking. From strawberries in June, to raspberries in late July, to blueberries and cranberries in August and September, it seems like every week, ladies (and gents!) are heading out to their favourite patch to fill their buckets with tiny, tart wild berries.

This summer I've managed to freeze some strawberries, and loads of raspberries (and made raspberry-honey jam, too). I knew the blueberries were ready, but I had no idea where to go to get them. Today, my friend Lynne took me to her spot along the Top of the World highway.

I get my thrills, on blueberry hill.

It was a really beautiful afternoon: warm sunshine on our backs as we picked our way along a hillside covered in fragrant Labrador tea, mossberry, lichen, and of course, blueberries! 

Every so often I would stop just to gaze around us. I never get over the Top of the World highway...the scenery is stunning. The rolling hillsides are just beginning to deepen with autumnal colours, and the distant mountain ranges behind those are seen as though through a haze.

I discovered that Aedan loves wild blueberries! He couldn't keep his hands out of Lynne's bucket, grabbing up handfuls and smushing them into his mouth.  

I have to admit, I was worried a few days ago when I overheard some of the women at my yoga class talking about how the patches were all picked over. I thought for sure I'd missed out. No need to worry, though! I suppose there are millions of blueberries ripening all across the territory this week, along highways, in secret forest clearings, and deep in the back-country where only the bears will have access.

What have you been foraging for these days?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the Verge

The last time I wrote here was to talk about the arrival of spring in the Yukon. 
And now, here we are at the tail end of summer, with autumn creeping in.

It comes first on the air: a chill in the early morning that lingers until close to noon:
the day warms, 
and the damp earth gives up the scent of 
dry grasses, over-ripe berries, mushroom forest floor.

Before long, the leaves begin to turn. 
Always the willows first, 
their pale green leaves turning brown--harbingers of the season's change. 
Then, patches of birch and aspen flash golden:
a single bright flame in a hillside of trembling green.

On the forest floor,
unexpected colour:
the fireweed's leaves turn red,
its purple hips release their seed on the wind. 
Wild rosehips and bearberries ripen red, 
and the tart, highbush cranberries await the first sweetening frost, 
their leaves a deep scarlet red.

The days are noticeably shorter, the sun a little lower in its rounds.
The nights are dark, now,
and the moon is faintly visible in the sky.
I welcome it back,
welcome the darkness and the cool.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hello there

I haven't forgotten you.

In fact, I've been giving you a lot of thought...

I promise I'll be back soon.