Be It Ever So Wintry, There’s No Place Like Home

“Gee, but it’s great to be back home” – Paul Simon

Waiting for my wife’s plane to land at the airport this afternoon I was reminded of how difficult it can be to get in and out of town sometimes. It was my second trip to the airport that day due to the foggy conditions that prevented Air North from landing in Dawson until later in the day.

Unless you have an adventurous thumb you travel to and from Dawson by driving or flying. Husky Bus ran a very welcome service between Whitehorse and Dawson this summer, but its proprietor, Jesse Cooke, is currently on a motorcycle somewhere in the USA, and so that option is gone with the tourist season.

We’ve entered the “waiting for winter” season here. There was snow at Henderson’s Corner and in parts of West Dawson this morning, but it won’t last for a while yet, and that cheering I hear from young snow machine enthusiasts is misplaced this early in the month. Maybe by Halloween.

For us Davidsons, of course, it does feel like an abrupt change. We cheated a bit and skipped most of the Yukon’s September. Autumn in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is an actual season, rather than just an arbitrary mark on the calendar; bits of summer linger on until at least September 21 and usually well beyond that date.

We motored south on September 7 and flew to Nova Scotia the next day—off to check in with Maritime relatives and reconnect with our roots after a couple of year’s absence. It is odd how these people who love to see us have never managed to figure out that the airlines fly both ways—but there it is.

It was lovely, in spite of the rain and the brush with Hurricane Leslie, to see a few more weeks of green trees and blooming gardens, to drive along the seashore and take in some favorite sights.

Now we are home, and it feels good.

People we meet while Outside often ask three questions. After “Where do you live?” comes the curious “What do you do there?” and when we reply that we taught school they seem almost disappointed, as if the answer ought to have been more exotic. On registering the past tense verb and confirming that we’ve retired, the third question is always some variation on “And you’re still there?” as if that was incredible and we must be strange.

There was a time when that would have been the case, I suppose. The various former Yukoners groups that live and meet Outside testify to a retirement pattern that used to be the norm. It was so in the 1970s when we moved here.

But the number of return visitors to Dawson is a testament to the pull of the place. We came back from a camping trip this past August to find a note pinned on our front gate. Some former Faroites now living Yarmouth, NS, had dropped by. It had been 27 years since they were forced out of Faro by the mine’s closure and they have been quietly missing the Yukon for nearly three decades since. They hoped to get the place out of their system.

We visited them on our trip to the Maritimes, coordinating our changing plans (avoiding the bad weather) via Facebook and e-mail. It turned out their return trip to the Yukon hadn’t worked. It was wonderful. Their fondness for their old stomping grounds had been increased and they had already begun to plan their next extended visit. After all that time in another town on the other side of the country, but the Yukon still felt like home.

“I don’t suppose you’re ever going to come home,” my family used to say. They’ve stopped now. It took years, but they finally got it. We are home right here.

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