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.