Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring has Sprung

Whitepass on the way to Skagway

     For me, spring starts on St. Paddy's Day, which marks the day I arrived in the Yukon, 1980.  I remember it well because green beer was served at the bar.  The Whitehorse airport at the time was a large cavernous hanger, with the only place heated being a small office in a corner.  Pigeons lived in the rafters high above the wide open space.  The luggage was delivered by tractor to a sheltered frozen ramp outside.  Winters seemed a lot longer and colder back then, and this day was no exception.  The first true Yukon character I saw was a fully bearded man wearing a long fur coat with coyote tails dangling all around the hem.  From under his massive hairy hood, I heard a raspy voice tell me "You should've been here yesterday, it was even colder."  I was undeterred and welcomed the new adventure ahead.

     On this 32nd anniversary Robertson and I drove over the White Pass to Skagway Alaska to visit some friends who are undertaking a massive house project.  I love the energy of dream houses under construction and to visualize with them.  We had the usual fish and chips at the Sweet Tooth Cafe, seated at the table by the window and watched almost no activity passing on the wooden sidewalks.  We picked seaweed on the beach to take back to the compost heap to give it some extra coastal vitamins.  Like tourists we stopped often to marvel and take photos.  It's still an amazing place to call home.
     Is it the human condition to reminisce of perfect days long after they have occurred?  I vow to be more attentive to the ingredients of idealic moments.  Take today for example, we snowshoed across the lake in the sunshine, and followed it up with a sauna.  I shoveled ice off the deck with only a towel loosely draped over me with steam wafting from my wet hair.  Scented a spoonful of water with drops of lemon grass and lavender oils before tossing it on the lava rocks to create steam.  The spoon is made of a burl from a diseased tree and the bottom is carved with "Maked it by hand" signed by "Skully".  Another true Yukon character who once had a spot on the Alaska Highway selling a variety of bowls and such.  I hold it up to Rob and tell him it's one of the few things I hung on to from my last marriage.
     The weekend ends with a chicken roasting in the oven, a glass of wine and a good book.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Water issues in February

     Apologies for my long absence.   We've been busy with water issues; rain and our water pipes exploding in early December.  This relatively modern cabin with expected amenities has reverted to being a rustic cabin again and we're ready for it.  The over sized pails in the kitchen and bathroom are hardly noticeable and we are ever more mindful of how much water we use.  Grateful too for the medieval themed outhouse.  It's rewarding for us to note that we currently live with 55 gallons of water a week.  That's with traditional bathing in the sauna and laundry in Carcross (which turns out to be an unexpected community bonus with random visits).  The fortunate thing for us is that we have a clean body of water right outside our front door.  It's just a matter of carving out a hole with my new auger through 3 feet of ice, filling the blue jugs and hauling them up the hill.  Imagine how buff we'll look by spring!  I am so grateful that one of us is home full time to handle the extra work.
     Plus there's been rain in February, in the Yukon.  I blame our busted pipes on this warm weather, so much extreme change is too harsh and erratic on this system.  Still, we rejoice in the spring-like weather and parade around the wood pile in light fleece jackets, even without toques sometimes.  Skiing on the lake, with the sun on our pale faces, has been fantastic.
     But then we encounter unusual icy patches on our paths and stairs and shovel heavy loads of slush.  The sidewalks in Whitehorse are mushy and brown.  Great for snowman building, not something we have a lot of training in usually.  It's the kind of winter misery I left behind in my Maritime youth.  Its a hard concept to explain, the difference between a wet and dry climate when it comes to the cold.  We are like Arizona with the smallest desert in the world in our neighbourhood.  What this means for us is crispy granulated fluffy snow, not the smiling rotund stacked type with carrot noses.
     Part of me wants this mild weather to continue until spring (May) when we can dig up a new trench for a slick new water system but I suffer some guilt too knowing there is a price to be paid.   It's just not normal, all over the world we can share stories of disturbing weather patterns.  Climate change is here.  We, the Skookum minority would relish a steady -15 to -20C weather to give us a sense of peace in the world.