Getting the ‘keys’ to the Carhartts

When the good folks at What’s Up Yukon asked me to fill in for their editor, Darrell Hookey, during his well-deserved honeymoon vacation, two things went through my mind. First, I had sworn many years ago that I’d never again work on a weekly paper. I had done it many years ago in Vancouver, and I recalled that the cycle was hectic, demanding the speed of a daily paper but also the durability of a monthly magazine. It is a tough job, requiring a ceaseless passion for the community, and no small amount of coffee, Diet Coke, and adrenaline to keep pace.

My second concern was my status as a relative newcomer to the Yukon. Having moved here just last May, I’m still in the dark when it comes to many aspects of northern life. I can still walk into coffee shops and not recognize a soul, I still manage to get lost both driving around and running out on the trails.

Most embarrassingly, I only learned what Carhartts were just a little while ago, revealing my ignorance when someone mentioned “getting their Carhartts repaired” and I assumed it was a job for a mechanic. To put it bluntly, I have a lot to learn.

Yet, despite my shortcomings, here I am. As I eventually decided, my guest stint here may end up more What’s Up, Yukon? than What’s Up Yukon, but perhaps I can offer the perspective of an outsider, eager to learn more about the place I now call home. And, besides, I couldn’t I resist the chance to work with a great team of writers who graciously provide an insider look into the Yukon’s many subcultures and communities each week.

One thing I know for sure about the Yukon is that its residents are infinitely patient and generous when it comes to helping newcomers adapt to life in the North. In my year here, I have been the recipient of extraordinary kindness and wisdom—from the oil deliveryman who took time to show me how to bleed my furnace (being used to electric heat, I had stupidly let my oil run out in mid-December), to a colleague who offered to come over and seal up entry points when, horror of horrors, my old, rented house became the winter residence of choice for a family of tiny and thoroughly terrifying mice.

Just last week, when I took a wrong turn on the trails at Long Lake, ending up running some 30 kilometres without water, a man biking with his son recognized the look of sheer exhaustion on my face, and proffered his water bottle to me without so much as asking if I had cooties. As I sat in the grass in the shade of the Robert Campbell Bridge, gulping back water and feeling a bit foolish, the man sweetly assured me that I wasn’t the first person to make a wrong turn on the trails. When I explained I was preparing for the upcoming Mayo Midnight Marathon, this heroic stranger even gave me some great tips on training for the unique challenge of running 26.2 miles in the mosquito-filled light of the midnight sun.

Of course, my near-delirium when encountering this helpful father and son means I don’t recall either of their names, and can’t thank them personally. Likewise, I can’t thank each of What’s Up Yukon‘s readers personally for their patience as I try to find my way through this stint as guest editor. I assure you, I’ll do my best to avoid wrong turns and pass on what I learn, just as so many have done with me. And of course, once my Carhartts get back from the mechanic, I’ll be happy to jump-start anyone on their journey to know the Yukon better.

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