many, many months later

by Rian

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!)

July


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?

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