I arrived in Whiterhorse in the middle of the night after riding Greyhound buses
across the country for five days. The last thing I wanted was to sit again, but at
4:30 a.m., feeling cold just because I was tired, Tim Hortons seemed like the
only place I could go.
I sheepishly dragged myself accross the street and through the doors without
looking around me, then sat down with a tea. Eyes half-closed, I burned
through the hours, darkening a few pages of my notebook and fighting fatigue
with the hot liquid in my cup. It took me everything just to lay down some
blurred lines that failed to make sense.
Exhausted, I took off to watch the sunrise.
I walked east, toward the dim green light profiling over the horizon, until I hit
the river. I crossed the bridge to Riverdale, trying to reach a better point of
view. My footsteps echoed through the silence of the F.H. Collins parking lot. I
I walked up the road leading to the hospital then cut somewhere uphill.
The sky was slowly waking up in its teal and indigo sweaters. The sun was
there, but it was hidden behind a cloudy wall. Although I already felt its heat, I
knew it wouldn’t show up for least an hour. I turned around to set my sights on
the mountains and the city comfortably nested within its flanks.
It was wonderful; a slow slumber reaching for light in this late fall morning.
Under my feet, the cozy neighborhood of Riverdale. Down there, a little bit
north across the river, downtown and its lights. Further north, after the
industrial area, at the end of Mountain View Drive, Porter Creek.
This is where Nicky lives; this is where I was going.
Nicky is a nice man with what I’m guessing are remnants of a Hebrew accent,
and a bit of a crooked smile, who rushed at the door as soon as he saw me
through his window. On his street, houses have verandas with french-like
columns, ten-foot bay windows, and double garage doors with pricey SUVs
parked in front.
He lives in a semi-basement with a table, a bed, a couch and a TV. It looks like
he’s about to move. But he’s not.
Nicky’s happy in Whitehorse.
A second room featuring two single mattresses is used to host travellers. His
daughter recently left to live on her own. This was her bedroom.
Showing me around the place, Nicky pointed to the shower and the laundry
“You must want to wash now, after riding the bus for so long.”
Of course, he was right. Nicky was always right.
“Take care of yourself and do your laundry if you wish first, then we’ll talk.”
I dropped my bag on one of the beds and headed straight for the shower. I was
in such a hurry that I forgot to take my soap. Feeling guilty, I used Nicky’s and
never told him.
While I was washing, Nicky set up sheets and blankets on the bed. I do carry
around my sleeping bag, but a comfortable night between two sheets is a luxury I dared not refuse.
After settling down, I filled up the kettle resting on the counter, took out my
Feng Qing cake and my little teapot and started brewing. I’d been waiting for
this moment since I left Montreal five days ago.
I delicately broke out some of the stone pressed leaves and palced them in the
bottom of the teapot. I poured in hot water, steeped them for a few seconds
(15, tops) and finally served the tea in the mugs Nicky had brought from the
The First gulp was pure pleasure. Feng Qing tea is a real treat, delicate and
light, much more sweet than bitter. I drank it with ease.
Nicky sipped his cup and, after a brief moment of hesitation, smiled with
“You don’t mind if I add a little sweet to it?”
Of course not.
Nicky grabbed the agave syrup on the table and dripped some in his mug. He
tasted it again and let go of a soft, “aah, perfect”.
He was the first person I ever saw sweetening such tea. And for some reason, I
found it touching.
While drinking, we spoke freely about ourselves. Nicky told me about his youth
in Israel and about Haifa, the city where he lived most of his life. He also told
me about his travels, his encounters with spirituality, his coming to the Yukon,
and his life as a Northerner.
Nicky loves to speak and teach about things that have touched him. And he also
He asked me about my trips, my writing, my projects, and soon the mugs were
empty. I poured some more water in the teapot.
The second steeping was even better than the first one. It always is. Feng Qing
tea gets smoother with more aroma. Its brew is lighter than water.
“I like this tea. I wonder if they sell some at the Chinese store downtown?”
I decided to check before I left.
Two days later, I was back on the Trans-Canadian trail, walking my way from
Porter Creek to Downtown at dawn. The sky was clear and colours were
bursting from the summits beyond Riverdale. I did not find pu’er tea at the
Chinese store Nicky told me about (neither did I find any Chinese tea). But who
There’s that new place in town that just opened, Amy’s Tea House. Maybe
that’ll be somewhere to meet other Yukoners over a steaming teapot.