November 1, 2017


I’ve been busy, or pretending to be busy, battling being homesick, facing sorrow, wrestling with self-doubt. And while I was busy, winter increased its volume, took control of the days and is shortening them with decisiveness.


The river is trying to freeze, ice easing out from the sore like a stain on a tablecloth, chunks of ice getting bigger and bigger, colliding with one another, choosing teams.


Robert Service’s cabin continues to look at me from up the hill, saying “get on with it”, without patience for my hesitant writing.


The sun takes almost the entire day to find its way up the hill to me and most days can’t be bothered.


Though I know it is warm and green at home still, the leaves protesting the change in seasons with flare and beauty. Here winter is bold, shouting and I can’t help but appreciate its beauty.


I attended the Wine Odyssey at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, an annual fund-raiser, pairing up wine tasting with delicious appetizers. I came home realizing I had participated in a wine-drinking event rather than wine-tasting, the portions perhaps a bit too generous. It was a splendid time, this pianist and drummer entertaining us the entire evening with extraordinary sound.


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Gratitude – Post 96 – Annie

I am grateful for Annie Lahti.

I heard this morning, as I write this on October 29, that one of the most precious people in my life has gone. I can scarcely imagine the sun will continue to shine without her, that spring will ever come again and that I will find my way home. I write this for her.


Dear Annie:

I would have sat at your bedside these last weeks had I been able, had I been allowed to abandon my post in the Yukon. I would have held your hand, whispered my favourite stories, stories of you. I know you were surrounded by your family, surrounded by love, with Mandy as the vigil in the end. You didn’t need me there, my love quietly and securely tucked inside your heart, but I needed to be there for my own comfort, for my own needs. This is my letter of gratitude to you, repeating the stories and memories I have told you over and over for all these years and though we were separated by too many miles you were never far from my heart, never forgotten, always missed.

I would have thanked you for filling my heart with love, when I was little. Remember the day you came to gather me up to take me to your house. I was four, afraid and sad to leave my dad, my mother gone back to teaching, my dad needing to farm without the perils of me tagging along behind him. Remember how we laughed years later about my struggling and screaming as you and Aarne drove me in your station wagon, up my lane and next door to yours. You opened the glove box of your car, while holding me securely on your knee and showed me the cut-outs you had there, the surprise to stop my wrestling to get free. It worked and within a matter of hours your home became mine, your table the only one I ate at without complaint, without excuses, without resistance. And before long my dad would turn me lose at our barnyard gate and I would race across the field to you, take your hand so we could walk the rest of the way down your lane together.

All the memories flow in together, forming a collage as I sit here, not bothering to stop the tears. I am transformed into the princess with flour sack cape, weaving her way through the sheets hanging in the basement on rainy Mondays or outdoors in the sunshine, my kingdom, the wringer washer gurgling and sloshing the laundry in its soapy tub, your skilled hands guiding the soggy clothes through the wringer to magically press out the water, your hand warning me to be careful. I am gathering eggs with you, basket in my hand, squatting down under the sloping ceiling of the chicken coop, my hand tentatively sneaking beneath the warm feathery belly of the resting hen and stealing her eggs, her clucking in annoyance. Remember when I fell, tripping over stones and broke all the eggs but one, and you never scolded, never frowned or looked annoyed, but wiped my knees and my hands while saying we would try again tomorrow. Remember hunting in the mow of the barn and the attic of the shed looking for kittens, calling out muddy-ka, mother cat you explained.

I lied in the straw in your cozy red barn while you and Aarne milked cows and I cuddled calves tied with a bit of sisal twine and then we lugged the milk to the milk house down by the creek, a cool and dark and sacred place, separating the milk from the cream and filling the cream cans. Or while you made donuts, snapping and sizzling in the oil, I built castles and barns with Ralph’s Sta-Lox building bricks until I was allowed to shake the donuts in a paper bag to cover them with sugar, taking a few home to share.

I can’t choose a single memory, can’t refine it down to one image other than crawling on to your lap, and placing my head against your chest and knowing I was safe and loved, a feeling that resides in my heart and always will.

Thank you, Annie. I would have begged you not to leave me had I been there. But I wave with love, sending you off with my grateful heart. Until we meet again.

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October 20, 2017

I have a new grandson, born this morning at 2:50 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in Newmarket, Ontario, 6000 kms away from Dawson City. If I could, I would teleport from here to there. I’m just barely keeping myself from running out the door and down the street and not stopping until I have gathered his perfection into my arms and breathed in his essence and whispered in his ear about my unconditional love, that I will be his champion, I will hold the world back when need be, when it is crowding in on him and blocking the beauty, that I will applaud his extraordinarily ordinary moments and I won’t mind a bit if he spits up on me.

This glorious isolation has never felt so isolating, as it does this minute, where the only place I want to be is with my daughter.

Breathe, I tell myself. Breathe. But I’m not sure I can.


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October 19, 2017

“Welcome, Winter,” I keep repeating, while the temperature drops. “Welcome.”

2017 10 19 up the Yukon

The Ninth Avenue Trail was still passable yesterday and I had a refreshing hike. Not too cold yet.  Yet.

2017 10 19 winter Berton House

My little house is warm and comfortable.

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October 14, 2017

It’s official. The seasons have changed. Life marches on even when we cling to something we can’t hold on to.

2017 10 13 looking up The Yukon River

I’m still able to hike the Ninth Avenue Trail, thankfully, and the above view is my favourite, standing just beneath Moosehide Slide.

2017 10 13 winter is coming

The water in The Yukon River has taken on a green hue and though it is frightfully cold, it looks almost inviting.

2017 10 13 snow on Moosehide Slide

The cloud and snow cling to Moosehide Slide.

My parka is out, my mittens and toque are poised to keep me warm and I’m ready to challenge Yukon’s winter. We’ll see won’t we.

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October 6, 2017

My “sister” time is drawing to a close. It went by all too fast, but we certainly had fun.

We drove out to Bonanza Creek. “In the last years of the 19th century and the early 20th century, Bonanza Creek was the centre of the Klondike Gold Rush, which attracted tens of thousands of prospectors to the creek and the area surrounding it.”

2017 10 06 Dredge at Bonanza Creek

From this photo the size of the “bucket line sluice dredge” is not really appreciated.  The individual links on the chain were about the size of a bicycle.

2017 10 06 Dredge 3

You can try your hand at “panning for gold” at Claim 33 during the summer months.

2017 10 06 Claim 33

We were thinking of taking this car for a spin but it was missing the passenger side wheel. Maybe next time. 🙂

2017 10 06 car at Claim 33

We did our final drive up to the Dome for one last look at Dawson City where the Klondike flows into the Yukon River.

2017 10 05 Dawson where Klondike flows into the Yukon River

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October 3, 2017

A grand day! My dear sister Sherry and husband Tim are here with me in Dawson City. We talked, we laughed, we talked some more, we hiked, we drove up to The Dome and had our breath taken away.

2017 10 03 view from The Dome

There was no point of land higher than we were and it was like we could see to the ends of the earth.

2017 10 03 Sherry and Tim at The Dome

Above are Sherry and Tim at The Dome.

This evening we went for another drive and came upon a Northwest Mounted Police cemetery.

2017 10 03 NWMP cemetery

Some very young men died in the line of duty.

2017 10 03 cemetery


And to end the day with a giggle:

2017 10 03 t-shirt giggle


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