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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October 2, 2017

Sometimes we have an experience in life that profoundly changes the day or the week or sometimes the experience changes us, in our core, in our being. That was the case for me last evening.

A few weeks ago I bought a ticket from the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture to hear the workings of Khari Wendell McClelland, Freedom Singer. This amazing musician “traces his ancestors’ path to freedom through music”. His research took him from Vancouver to Halifax where he was able to find lyrics and stories about African-Americans, specifically his great-great-great-grandmother Kizzy escaping slavery to start a new life in Canada. It was a touching, poignant story and one that moved everyone in the room.

We met in the KIAC ballroom, a small venue and I’m not sure how many were in attendance but the room was full. The evening was started in the right tone when Peter Menzies, a local musician and volunteer extraordinaire, someone who works tirelessly in his community, introduced Khari and his team of Noah Walker and Tanika Charles. Peter spoke of the power of the small but mighty community of Dawson City that recognizes the humanity of each of us and our inherent rights. And then the music and story-telling began.

The songs that African-Americans sang were coded language within oppression to share messages of hope. The songs were maps to freedom.

Khari quoted James Baldwin, an American writer and social critic. “Our crown has already been bought and paid for all we have to do is wear it.” We are born worthy.

He reminded us to be careful of the narrative of the Underground Railroad and African-Americans being fugitives before they found freedom. The story in our history books tends to paint the picture of weak blacks, victims with strong white people saving the day. We must remember that these slaves, these fugitives rewrote their own history, with their courage and lives sacrificed they created their own freedom. He also reminded us any positive change, any breaking free requires discomfort, requires sacrifice.

We closed the evening with all of us singing Bill Withers’ Lean On Me and I am certain that everyone in that room believed the lyrics they were singing.

I am beyond grateful for Peter Menzies for buoying me up and for Khari and his team for giving me hope and insight.  If you get the chance to be witness to the story that is Khari Wendell McClellan, Freedom Singer, jump at it.

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September 29, 2017

When I was walking the other day I came upon an elderly woman walking her dog. Her pace was slow, her back bent and her legs bowed. Her dog had a similar pace and body structure. I slowed my pace so as not to startle her and stayed behind her until she turned into her own yard. Well, when I walked by her house today I caught her in the act. She was splitting firewood. She lifted her very large axe over her head and slammed it down on the wood and voila, it split perfectly. Not a scene you see every day and note to self: never underestimate anyone.

Then I was walking along the dike and hitch-hiking on the side of the road were two young men looking very much like courier de bois. These weren’t just your average every day hitch-hikers. They were hitch-hiking with large packs and … wait for it … their canoe. They held up a sign that said “Whitehorse”, so they were hopeful that someone with a half-ton would come along willing to take them and their canoe the six-hour drive to Whitehorse. I admired their positive thinking. No one stopped while I was walking, but I wished them luck. I went by a few hours later and they were gone and so was their canoe.

It’s Friday. As I walked home from the grocery store I watched people making plans for the evening and for the weekend and for just a moment I felt very strange, very alone. That’s okay; being alone is a good thing.

I wish I had a photo of the woman chopping wood and I hope I can chop wood when I am her age.

The nights are cooling down. The river looks colder and winter is whispering. “I’m coming for you,” it is saying. Well, winter, bring it on. I’ve got my parka ready.


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