The most common question from visitors is the one I was asked by a lady from Alabama this afternoon. I was on my way home from an interview at Berton House and thought I might give them a hand – they had happened along Robert Service’s Cabin while the Parks’ guide wasn’t there. I was explaining some of the history when she asked me that common question.
“What do you do here in the winter? How do you keep warm?”
Since it was 29°C at my house, and certain to climb past 30°C as the sun moved to the western part of the sky, this seemed a silly question, but I responded politely.
All the while, I was thinking back to the previous week, when the National Post had contacted the Klondike Sun in search of a photo of people coping with our unaccustomed heat wave — as if we were all likely to melt like the wicked witch in Oz when Dorothy douses her with a bucket of water.
The photo editor’s questions were the inverse of the lady’s, but showed very little knowledge of Dawson City in June.
He was disappointed that I would not be able to send him photos of hordes of people sunning on a riverbank beach or swimming in the Yukon River.
People do splash around in the shallows and back eddies where the water is still enough that the sun warms it, but not for very long.
I went out and did my best over a couple of afternoons, trying to get a combination of elements that would show both people and the town.
“Hi,” I said. “The folks in Toronto have realized that this is one of the hottest places in Canada today, and the National Post has asked me to get pictures of some people beating the heat.”
Folks wanted to know what the National Post was and whether they’d sent me all the way out here to cover this story. Learning that I live here they wanted to know why, and whether I stuck it out through the winter (that old question). Apparently some of them thought I was very brave.
People cope in a lot of ways. Just now I’m sitting in my summertime living room on our nicely shaded deck. The Post chose to use the picture of two tourists having an ice cream outside the Klondike Creamery. I liked the shot of folks listening to Dwayne Kelly busking on his piano beside the Front Street gazebo, or the one of the group having a picnic in the nicely shaded shelter, created during the Take Back the Waterfront project.
Three young people were having a game of cards on the cool grass, while another young woman was flaked out beside her bicycle under a tree.
In the summer we try to enjoy the heat while we can, and hope for just enough rain to cut the forest fire risk and keep down the dust.