Northern Migrants

Spring is near, with a sure indication being the en route and soon-to-depart migrants of the North.

The first to arrive are the fair-weather Northerns, returning from southern winter retreats. These people are the envy of town, blessed with living the dream of eternal summer, bouncing between the southern Canada/USA or Caribbean and the Yukon’s spring and summer.

And soon to follow will be the migrating birds, most notably the swans and cranes, bringing their welcome honking announcement of warmer times. And, behind them, other fellow migrants with a slightly different honk: “How far in miles? How far in miles?”

Some will be housed in luxury mobile homes, bigger than other people’s trailers or apartments. The same people, enviously gawking at the space trailer, are even more shocked at the 50-grand SUV being towed behind. Impressive.

Others will be less flashy, the young and young-at-heart hitching rides to adventures of the North, or perhaps fleeing persecutions of the South. This thrifty bunch is a hearty breed, ill-prepared but excited. They are the drifters … at least for the summer anyways.

Many appear as creepier versions of the guy from Into the Wild.

Both the space trailer people and the audacious drifters have a migrating counterpart: the European ecotourist.

They, too, have their relatively more flashy motorized migrants, though the vehicular homes do not scream luxury as much as extreme wilderness adventure. The truck-camper resembles an army truck/tank, green or tan in colour, with huge tires and sleeping capsules for everyone.

The occupants, dressed in quick-dry top-of-the-line Canadian Safari gear, all in tan or green, same as the truck/tank.

Their personae can be so National Geographic that interacting with them at the gas pump makes me feel like I’m some African tribal person, so very peculiar and perhaps primitive to them.

I always wonder if their great-adventurer bubble is popped when they see a Mom with three kids passing them on the Robert Campbell in a late 80s station wagon.

The European version of the drifter is usually less of a vagabond and more like Lance Armstrong. Getting their fix by biking thousands of kilometres of highway, armed with minimal gear and maximum spandex. Perhaps naively, these meals-on-wheels laugh at your suggestion that bear spray, if not something more bold, would help them sleep at night. Oh well, best of luck.

The other migrant is the middle-class Canadian vacationer, usually towing middle-of-the-line trailers or mini-vans packed to the max with hyper kids, everything but the kitchen sink, and a certain tension in the air that goes hand-in-hand with a family road trip.

The North is no doubt a migrant destination (in the summer anyway). And that whole time, most Yukoners are migrating all over the North, driven mad by the Midnight Sun and needing to get the most out of summer.

Go, go, go, here, there and everywhere. There’ll be time to sleep in November, once the northern migrants can be seen southbound.

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