Rian Lougheed-Smith, Dawson City, YT

important things

It is Maggie’s first morning of daycare. I have to go back to work at the end of the month, and while I am INCREDIBLY thankful to have had an entire year to spend with my babe, I am sad to have to fit our lives into the 9-5 framework.

We’re doing our first morning of daycare today, and a few more drop ins to warm Maggie up to the experience before we start full time. She will love it. I think this will be harder for me.

I think I sent her with everything she needed. I tried to stick to the important basics when introducing her to the daycare staff, tried to shut down my nervous verbal diarrhoea, “She has a snack in her bag, please call me if she’s freaking out, her diapers and wipes are here…” …And she’s really smart and she loves dogs and this is her version of signing airplane, she can’t really sign it properly yet, and she loves water, and when she’s really happily asleep sometimes she does this amazing combination of a sigh and a giggle, and I love her more than anything, ANYTHING. She giggled the first time she saw the Atlantic Ocean and screamed for more when I dunked her toes in it, and cranberries are her very very favourite, sometimes she tries to stand up in the canoe holding the gunwales to get a better look at the river, books are her second favourite, and this is the face she makes when she’s pooping, she waved at a great horned owl last night and shouted at the three moose in our field this morning, when you’re walking she likes to touch the leaves as you pass buy… Those things are all really important too. They would also make me seem like a crazy person.

I did it. I kissed her. I left. She could of cared less! There are GIANT mirrors there. There are other babies! There are so many NEW THINGS. And I didn’t cry*. But, I did realize as I walked into the cafe that I am still wearing my pajama bottoms.  I guess pants are also important.


My sister took this photo of Maggie and I in PEI this past July.

*(Only because I totally cried last night in preparation for this morning.)


many, many months later

This post was written in July. This past summer has been busy. Yes- past summer. It is fall here. The leaves are yellow, the muskeg is on fire with reds and oranges, and we’ve been wearing our woolies. Maggie is huge, happy and happening. She picks her own berries now. I can’t believe how able and amazing she is now. She’s pretty much ready to move out.

Internet access has been infrequent this summer, my phone being our only access at home. Over the next month I’ll be posting some of the snippets I wrote this summer, but haven’t yet been able to post.  (Nice to see you again!)


The days here are long but there is so little time for writing. Its been ages since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write. Well, thats a lie- I’ve had chances, I’ve just used them to stare blankly into the distance, eat all of the chocolate, or mow the lawn (we have a push mower and I find it oddly meditative and satisfying. Also, its not really a lawn. Its a patch of field- hay, fireweed, lungwort, yarrow, bedstraw, roses and raspberries- that happens to surround our house and we happen to cut.)

Other times I stand on the deck, once Maggie and Chris are both sleeping soundly upstairs, and think about writing, or drawing. Compose something in my head to be forgotten. I water the plants on the deck, wonder at the laziness of the tomatoes, remember that I am thirsty, go grab my own glass of water. On clear evenings there is still sun on the mountains, blocked from hitting us directly by the nearest ridge to the West, but still shining on the foothills of the Ogilivies. Often a marsh hawk, or maybe she’s a Sawnson’s hawk, visits, floating over our fields weaving between the willows and the birch that have taken over in the 15 years since it was last hayed.

Maggie and I spent the early part of the summer in New Brunswick, introducing here to my homeland, dunking her in the Bay of Fundy, the Atlantic Ocean at every opportunity. Introducing my mer-babe to her mer-mama’s home waters, sitting by the pond with her at night with deafening frog song in our ears, rubbing cedar between my hands and then making her smell, showing her bullfrogs, june bugs, fireflies and all the other things we don’t have here in the Yukon.

Summer hit the Yukon hard and fast. It was dry dry dry in May and June, and by early June the Yukon had had more forest fires than it had in the entirety of 2014. There was one fire burning north east of our home that grew from 11 hectares to 2 hundred hectares in a matter of hours. Chris cut a line from our house to the creek and wild land firefighters installed a pump at the creek, and ran lines to large sprinklers they installed around and on our house. Luckily, they were taken down the next week without being used.

Maggie and I were in New Brunswick while this was happening. Chris called and asked what we needed to take out of the house. He had already packed up all of my sketchbooks and journals and taken them to his dad’s house. He is a smart and thoughtful cookie, my man. I answered honestly that the important things, us, and our dogs, were not there. There were really only a couple other things I could think of- my grandmother’s rings, two beautiful wool blankets knit for Maggie by dear friends and a quilt my great grandmother had made.

We’ve had a few hot dry stretches since. It rains occasionally, large storm clouds that threaten to pour but strike out with lightening instead. You wonder if they are doing more harm than good, the lightening starting more fires than the rain puts out or dampens.

The fire base and airport are only a few kilometers, as the crow flies, from our house. In those dry days the traffic rarely stops. The water bombers, some of which, I’ve been told, are refurbished WWII planes, are beasty and LOUD. Smaller planes, birddogs, fly ahead of them, spotting, leading them to their drop sites. Helicopters buzz around the whole fray with buckets full of water, flying back and forth between the fires and deep places in the nearby rivers where they can refill. And everywhere the smoke.

Even when the fires are far away, Alaska, BC, Alberta, the NWT, our skies can be hazy and you can smell the burn, feel the itch your throat. On particularly thick days we lose our mountains, the sun turns red, and everything seems very apocalyptic. It is dramatic, but grows boring, and annoying quickly.

The smoke rolled in with the wind yesterday, from far off fires. It arrived as I was putting Maggie to bed, around nine. Neither of us slept well- part practical, scratchy throats and stuffy noses, part primitive: what animal can sleep with the smell of danger all around?

the best of intentions

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This winter and our first five months as parents have flown by. These photos are mostly from a two week long stretch in February when temperatures of forty below or colder kept the three of us at home, the generator off, and the internet at bay.

I’m sure all other parents, and just busy human beings, can understand the best of intentions to post these photos, brush your hair, etc.- that just didn’t manifest until now. (Fear not, I’ve brushed my hair since February. At least once.)

So here is a touch of Dawson winter- just as the sun returns to the Klondike in force, quickly melting our memories of -50 away.





This is the path to the outhouse- essentially we live in Narnia.




My two loves, a few weeks ago, hanging out in their wool onesies with forty below waiting outside.

cold & warm & fuzzy


It has been forty degrees below zero, or colder, for about ten days now. Other than one quick and heavily bundled trip to the in laws to do laundry and indulge in a bath, we’ve been tucked into our cabin in our woolens with hot mugs in our hands.

I would be lying if I said I didnt long for our running water these days, or wish for an easier commute and closer company. As I type on a cellphone I also wish we had internet so I could release all the writing I’ve  been doing on my laptop. But, we have quiet in excess, owls calling out to us in the night,  moonshine enough to clearly see the mountains at night,  and a window full of northern lights at the foot of our bed. We also have a house full of sun every afternoon- a hot commodity after the long dark of December and January. Infrequent showers and internet access is an entirely reasonable cost.

More words soon- either when this cold breaks, or I get cabin fever, pack up the babe, coax the car to start and go fetch myself a shower and a latte.



Sitting inside in the warmth of our house with the baby, watching the dark grow and moon rise, waiting for Chris to get home with another load of wood, I sometimes wonder if my chainsaw misses me?



I think I understand my mother better now. I understand why she would stay awake after we all went to sleep, reading, or watching tv, often with a small bowl of plain potato chips beside her. It is 12:30 am. I have just nursed my  infant daughter to sleep. She is in bed, upstairs in the loft, my partner is asleep in bed beside her, where I should probably be, also sleeping. But instead I am downstairs, sitting on the bottom step, in front of the wood stove, with a hot cup of tea in my hands. It is the first hot drink I’ve had all day, the only one that is not lukewarm and too strong by the time I reach it. And, I hope, unlike the others I will finish it, instead of being distracted by a diaper change, or separated from it by the need to breastfeed.

Mom still keeps her nightly ritual, and I wonder now if instead of solace from a house full of  noise and two raucous daughters, the nightly moments on her own serve as reminders of when we were both there, instead of in our own houses with our own newborns.
I love my daughter. I am thrilled to have a year to stay at home to hold her, to wear her around for most of my day, to sing to her, to rock her to sleep. The time to spend with her, with my partner, building our family is a privilege. But so too are these few stolen moments by myself. My family in the bed in the loft above me, our huskies curled in tight balls at my feet, the northern lights and the cold subarctic dark outside around us all.

I recognize mom and her small rituals in a new way now, see that it was not that she was a night owl- or, if she was an owl, she only spent her nights scanning for and grasping at a small darting bits of stillness and solitude, skittish and as difficult to catch as mice. I’ll head back upstairs soon, probably only a few minutes really since I came downstairs. But I can fit a lot into a few quiet moments. I’ll be back upstairs, arms around my daughter, back warmed by my furnace of a mate. Until I go back to my roost for the night, I’ll sit here, like my mom may be doing at this moment as well, far away, hands grasping tight at my hot mug, eyes wide in the quiet and dim light.

direct sunlight



If having direct sunlight in your home in the depths of winter isn’t cause for celebration, then you probably don’t live in Dawson City, Yukon.

babes first hike

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We didn’t go as far as I used to, we didn’t go as fast as I used to, but, god- it felt great to be out sweating uphill in the cold again!


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