From Winter Sports to Poetry

I’m inclined to blame the Germans.

It seems that every year for the last half dozen or so out of the 12 years that the Fulda Extreme Winter Sports Event has taken place, the arrival of the red-suited FuldaFolk and their logo-emblazoned SUVs has coincided with the a precipitous drop in temperature, draping a curtain of ice fog over the town and leaving us shivering in the recovering daylight of mid-January.

Thus, it has been -40 or lower ever since their convoy left Whitehorse and the combination of inclement weather and local events has left me unable to pay them much attention.

Ian Macdonald carves the haggis for the annual Double Bob Bash in the Odd Fellows ballroom in 2010. PHOTO: Dan Davidson

This year I cannot complain that I didn’t know their intentions. I have two slightly different versions of their schedule before me and could, if I had had the time, have sought them out.

Their Sunday night run around the streets of Dawson was after dark – too cold and too dark for effective photography.

Three years ago I broke all the plastic gears inside a perfectly serviceable small Canon camera by turning it on and off (in order to thrust it inside my parka to preserve battery life) at -39 while snapping shots of a tire changing event.

The poor thing lasted a month after that day, but became increasingly temperamental and eventually refused to open.

Monday had possibilities, until it became the day designated for funeral and potlatch observances for a respected Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elder. The morning event was so far out of town I wasn’t sure I could get back in time for my duties in the pick-up choir that assembles for funeral services.

The mid afternoon event coincided with that funeral, and the evening event overlapped with the potlatch.

Sometimes you have to pick your priorities.

They were here. They had fun. They did insane things at unsafe temperatures and spent quite a bit of money. Hopefully I’ll see more of them next year.

Twelve days from when I am writing this column the Dawson Community Library Board will celebrate its annual Double Bob Bash, to be held this year in the Legion Hall on Saturday, January 28.

The Bash was created some years ago, when we noticed that both Robert Service and Robert Burns had birthdays in January – the 16th and 25th respectively.

Burns may have been born 115 years earlier, but he was one of several influences on his later countryman, so it seems meet that they should be celebrated together.

Besides, honesty compels me to add that splitting the evening’s recitations between the two of them makes for easier reading. Burns is harder on the modern Canadian tongue than Service.

There will be a haggis, properly dressed and addressed. It will be marched about the room before being carved.

There will be a potluck meal of other goodies, accompanied by some Celtic tunes and much reciting of poetry, some of it by the bards, some of it composed by those in attendance.

It will be a fun evening, but I have to admit that if the last couple of years are any indication, it will still be cold.

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