Chapter 1: Part 1 – “Toronto”
The city noises get louder as I get closer to my escape out of it. The constant noise is like a metal scrub brush on my brain. My earplugs don’t work anymore.
Having lived in Toronto all my life – never married, no children, no career job, struggling to get funding to finish a feature-length documentary that has been 20 years in the making (and is almost at the finish line), even my cats have all died – I am 100 per cent ready to experience life somewhere else.
On the positive side, because of all of these things, I am not stuck here and have the opportunity to leave. I see that as a bonus.
Looks like it’s the Yukon. Who woulda thunk? Dawson City, also called “the land of the midnight sun” as I will find out.
Chapter 1: Part 2 – “Toronto”
Two days before I leave I say my goodbyes to my folks and leave the contents of my film at their place (computer and hard drives). I come across a book lying on the basement table that catches my eye and as I open it I see a map of the Yukon. It was as if it was calling to me. I sit right down and read it in full.
“There are strange things done in the midnight sun,
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold…”
Turns out it’s a well-known and studied Yukon poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service, illustrated with jump-off-the-page paintings by Ted Harrison. Hard to believe I might’ve gone to Dawson without knowing about this intense, beautiful and dark story, and seeing the landscape so vividly captured.
I am more inspired to write than I have been in a long time, and I plan on writing a diary as soon as I land in my new adventure.
Chapter 2: Part 1 – “The Plane”
June 1, 2017
As the real midnight sun journey starts and as I recall the poem I read by Robert Service, which I feel has given me my only real insight into what life could be like there, my heart skips beats to reach my destination.
As I read Notes to Myself: My struggle to become a person by Hugh Prather, it confirms that this life we are living is complicated and that we really only have control over what we do in the moment and not the results of what we do. The author makes a point that he is trying to become a better version of himself and that in itself is his only constant.
I am uncannily starting to realize the same thing as I step forward and as I hope that this change is a turning point in my life. Staring 50 in the face, I feel like my life is just beginning.
Ironic, that as I prepared for my exit and either threw out most of my belongings or gave them away, I found a letter my late papa gave me on my 13th birthday that discusses how all things have a beginning and that I would someday write about my new beginnings and experiences. He was right.
This natural phenomenon of change, soul-searching, mid-life crisis, new beginnings, etc., starts with a very unnatural phenomenon of flying above the clouds. A man-made experience.
As we fly into the sun it is clearly later than it should be – judging by the sun. How can there be sun at midnight? I wonder how it will change me, affect me, brighten me, trick me?
I’ve heard that the place and the land is very magical – it puts a spell on people. My friend who has set me up with a place to live there says my housemate has immigrated from Mexico after falling in love with Dawson. I look forward to hearing his story.
I want very much to absorb and experience as much as I can. This can only serve to enhance how I live. I hope to connect with nature and the First Nations people. I appreciate their story and land, and I hope to hear and see positive knowledge that they are thriving and not on reservations. I am an open book and a small fish.
Chapter 2: Part 2 – “The Quiet”
June 10, 2017
There are no streetcars, buses, intersections, road rage, leaf-blowers, new high-rises going up and sounds bouncing off of other buildings.
A boat, a car, a raven, a ferry horn, children playing and occasionally a porch party or a group of tourists or locals spill out of the casino or bar laughing. I listen to people singing along to the nightly cancan show from my house on 7th Ave. It tickles me pink as I write in otherwise wild silence.
Mostly I just hear the sound of my brain being overwhelmed with all the newness.
I have been here for three weeks and am terrified of going back to Toronto. It left me depressed, discouraged and disappointed. I’m healing everyday, but am nowhere near missing it.
I’m so grateful to be where people don’t lock their doors, where everyone says hi, where you can rent a DVD and never get to watching it because you are happiest outdoors and people stop by to invite you to go do things outside.
Chapter 3: Part 1 – “Peeing on the Compost”
July 5, 2017
Yes, I am learning things left, right and centre. Not all things are big or small. Just new.
Right now it’s new to me that people pee on the outdoor compost heap. Uneaten and rotten foods go in it, so why not urine?
My housemate uses this compost mixture, turns it and adds it to his gardens and greenhouse plants. We have tomatillos, hot peppers, basil, calendula, broccoli, potatoes, chamomile and a few other things.
If this is indeed helping the compost to decompose better and quicker than not doing so, I do have to say that everyone here only has three months to plant, harvest and use.
The faster it grows the better – whether it’s ultimately going to be smoked, pickled or frozen. The summer is short and the winter is long. Peeing on the compost is just a sign that they are taking care of business now and thinking of the future winter that will come with dark, cold and wood burning stoves.
Again I am reminded of Sam McGee.
Chapter 3: Part 2, “The Little Things”
July 12, 2017
It’s really about the little things here. It’s about a community. It’s about getting things done, but not about what you do. Just as long as you don’t NOT do anything. Participation is key. Everyone needs a hand or two.
Here we enjoy living off the land and not so much the materialistic things. Aside from the peace and quiet, we love the aspects of life that one does not get much of in a big city such as looking after greenhouses, canoeing and camping, making and eating homemade everything, hunting and fishing, and, of course, any outdoor activity that includes beer and friends.
As I continue my diary about my new beginnings, it is clear that this place has indeed put a spell on me.
To be continued…