The Yukon’s ‘Happy Ditches’

I am convinced that the Yukon has really happy ditches.

I’ve always believed that places absorb the emotional energy of the human beings who have passed through.

Like up on the ski hill, a few weekends ago, my smile appeared even as I drove into the parking lot. It just felt good.

It’s also, I think, the reason people hate visiting hospitals. All the pain and fear just soaks into the place and we feel it as soon as we step inside the building.

Personally, and probably because of this, I have always found the sides of mountains and moving waterways to be my favourite places. I love to feel the energy of the earth and the water, and when you are in the back country, there just haven’t been enough people passing through to leave much of a negative trace.

I need to get back to the ditches.

I went for a drive out to Tagish, on a Sunday, late in March. The sun was shining, the music on my CD player was rockin’ and the snow was gleaming beautifully on the sides of the road.

The snow had been transformed into an endless edging of scalloped lace on both sides of the road as far as the eye could see. The patterns, of course, were the weaving snowmobile tracks left by the daily rides of Yukoners.

I can see them now – kids, adults, brothers, Dads, Moms, little sisters, friends doubled up and the guys with the flashy helmets and the snowsuits that mirror the colour and design of their machines.

What were they doing in the ditches?

Were they out there using an efficient and practical mode of transportation to, let me see, bring the recycling to the dump? I don’t think so.

They were joy riding, plain and simple. Now think about that. Every day, in winter, after school and after work and all day on the weekends, people are out on their snowmobiles decorating the ditches with loops and curves.

And then there’s summer. While I may not own a snowmobile, I have personal experience that tells me that ditches have fun in the summer, too.

While my BMW is actually a little big for ditches, it still likes them. It and I felt pretty exhilarated riding along ditch trails, powering up at driveways to get over and around and, yes, getting stuck in the odd mudhole.

With our wide road allowances and good roads, accidents are few and far between, and the energy left by them, I am sure, is more than counteracted by the daily loup-de-loups of the sleds and dirt bikes.

Next time you stop by the side of the road, for a stretch from driving or to pick a few wildflowers, just stop for a minute and see if you can feel it – the Yukon’s happy ditches.

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