Boreas always tires of summer on the same day each year, the same day a very special baby girl was born. After a bite off a glacier and a purse of his lips, Boreas draws a deep cold breath and exhales, closing out summer. Like a child blowing a dandelion, his breath sends the trees, the grasses and the loose dry earth spiraling towards the heavens, leaving an earth-toned, tie-dye tapestry on the mountainsides and the valleys in the Yukon.
Aurora’s mother shook out her blanket in the backyard just as Boreas huffed and puffed; today was her baby’s birthday. Mere moments after Aurora was born, the first eyelash that her mother wiped off her cheek and puffed away, whisked to the ceiling in the maternity ward at WGH and was sucked up through the ductwork in the hospital, cartwheeling through the catacombs for days. It finally found its way to an ill woman and her dying wish was granted. Aurora’s eyelashes could do that, but only once a year, on the first day of fall.
Aurora was born with the grandest plumes of eyelashes. When she opened her eyes for the first time, the eyelashes unfurled a majestic brilliance and regal plumage that almost blinded the midwife who delivered her. As she blinked, the light refracted a luminescence over her deep dark eyes; greens, purples, chartreuse, blues, all shimmering, the reason her parents named her Aurora.
As Boreas’ breath picked up the millions of lashes shaken off Aurora’s linen, they spiraled up above Riverdale in a tornado funnel, eventually breaking into individuals as they were exposed to the open trade winds atop Grey Mountain. Up they went into the atmosphere, deeper into the darkness where they were greeted by the northern lights. The lights were always reinvigorated by the breath of Boreas after a season of being cast off by the midnight sun. In unison, they tickled each other, tumbling and waltzing far over the vast expanse of Yukon Territory until it was time to be released back to earth.
The fall was coming fast this year and a warm summer indicated a long hard winter. An old, tired grizzly bear long past his prime knew this too well. Many of his resources had dried up early and a bigger, younger bear had pushed him off of his prime salmon hole. This was a lean summer, and when he made his way to check his den spot from the previous years, it had been compromised by a mid-summer fire, and was inhospitable. He questioned whether he would make it through the winter.
As he sat contemplative, he turned his wet nose towards the southerly wind. It had a chill, but seemed warmed by a familiar scent that intrigued him, something primal yet calming and relaxing. He felt like he did when he was a cub, comforted at the bosom of his mother. Looking up, he could see the northern lights, shimmering in the full spectrum, something he had never seen before. Pensive, he stood on his hind haunches and, unbeknownst to him, an eyelash vortexed around him and nestled itself on the softest part of fur where his half chewed ear and his brow met. At that very moment he thought to himself, “I wish I could just find a good den.”
Instantly he felt an overwhelming sense of optimism. A cub-like exuberance overcame him as he dashed into a crimson glen of fireweed and rolled and played under the pastel streaked sky as the last light flickered out on the day. All of his worries washed away; blown somewhere out into the antipodes of the arctic. He curled up and had the best sleep he had in months, maybe ever.
When he woke he strolled through a deep valley towards an emerald lake where he spotted an old, dilapidated log cabin that had been untouched for years. He had passed it many times over the years, but decided it was worth a closer look. As he was walking he heard a metallic clink under foot. He dug away the moss and found a hatch, and pried it open with the persistence only a bear has. As he squeezed his rump through the entrance his olfactory senses exploded.
A ray of bright fall sunshine beaming into the bunker refracted a luminescence off an endless stack of cans and glass jars. As he descended towards it, his weight on the wooden beams rattled the jars, cascading a kaleidoscope of shimmering colour all over his face: greens, purples, chartreuse and blues. As he sunk his teeth into a can, gravy spilled out the side and his taste buds exploded. He had tasted this before, fished out of a garbage bin when he was a cub, but there were no signs of humans above or below ground; he felt very safe. As he lapped away, he looked to his right and saw a big, fluffy mattress with several blankets over it. His wish was granted, this would be a great winter indeed. As he laid his head down for a nap on what felt like a mountain of moss, he smelled something that usually alarmed him but didn’t today; a fresh human smell. As he sniffed around, he found a single, tiny, human eyelash on the bed which he laid on top of, and drifted to sleep.