buckbrushed

Rian Lougheed-Smith, Dawson City, YT

Month: February, 2016

bright nights

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This time of year, as with most of life, I am torn between two things: being pumped about things getting sunnier and warmer, while not wanting to let go of the best of winter. We are steadily gaining light each day. The long dark is on the outs. This winter has been insanely, disconcertingly warm. Ottawa’s windchill outchilled us by 20 degrees last week. Now it’s colder, -35 this morning.  But it can go ahead and be cold- I am PUMPED about sun. It is strong enough to be WARM now, you can feel its light on your face, on your skin, through the windows. It is marvellous. But, with the sun also comes the realization that our nights are going to be shrinking, in a few months there will be no stars, no moon, no constellations, no northern lights. That age old challenge to greet the new while longing for whatever we’re leaving behind.

Maggie’s feelings are simpler. She yells at the sun. She doesn’t understand why it burns her eyes. “Na, Na, NAH” (No, no, NO.)

Jupiter is that bright blip near the top of the frame in the first shot. Thats our cozy little house in the bottom. The real danger of these drastic changes in temperature, from last week’s highs of -5 to last night’s -34, is when you don’t really notice the temperature has dropped, and run outside without pants to photograph the northern lights, and have to wait through your 20 second exposure with your knees rattling in the  wide open with the north wind rushing by. Unadvised.

A few other random things:

  • I am OBSESSED with sheep. We went on a date last week. To a talk by the Regional Resource Council of the communication of domestic sheep disease to wild sheep populations. We took Maggie with us. I asked nerdy questions. It was terribly romantic.
  • We need all kinds of infrastructure before we take the sheep leap. Fences, shed, somewhere to store hay, feed etc. So in the meantime I am gorging on all things woollen or sheepish. This includes The Sheep Blog (Two words: SHEEP DAIRY), World’s End Farm (some sheep, also flower farm porn from Saipua), and the Woolful podcast (Which is somewhat wool, a bit of sheep raising, but 80% creative ladies talking about trying to make a living doing what they love. It makes me think of all of my friends and brings me back to Ducky’s bar in Sackville NB, too early in the afternoon, my dog on the former church pew bench beside me watching two of my best knit away the afternoon with pints of blueberry ale.)
  • As a concession to my sheep patience, WE ARE GETTING CHICKENS. I have overwhelmed Chris with my enthusiasm, confidence we can brood 75+ birds without electricity in our small small house. Anyone have any hot (literally) tips for keeping baby birds warm without power? I’ve seen some cool setups with hot water bottles, I’ve also seen some that use kerosene lamps, but to be honest open flame + accelerant + bedding INSIDE OUR HOUSE scares the crap out of me. We won’t be receiving our chicks until June, so in the meantime I keep visiting the hatchery site and gazing at their birds longingly. Also I’ve been coaching Maggie to say “chicken” and pushing all the farm themed books on her.
  • Back to podcasts: I LOVE CBC. A lot a lot. I am so proud and happy of our national broadcaster. We listen to it on AM nearly all hours of the day. They have some super cool programs. As it Happens is a personal favourite (Maggie dances to their theme song daily), Unreserved is great, and I love nerding our on writers and company as well as Ideas. BUT- when you only get one radio station because you live in the bush- and when the previous federal government cuts CBC’s budget- you get a lot of repeat programming when you listen 24/7.Which I have been doing since I started my disability leave from work a month or so ago. So, enter podcasts.
    • Greenhorns Radio: Super conversational, incredibly inspirational. A whole bunch of crazy folks trying to make the food we eat and the lives of those growing it good. Lots to learn. Based in the US, interviews a new “greenhorn” every episode.
    • Lore: Ghost stories. Folklore horror. One story an episode with a classy atmospheric piano in the background. Can seem a bit ostentatious at times but I like it.
    • Cavern of Secrets: LADIES. Dropping F bombs. Kind of like the best tipsy ranting moments. Cool women. The Tanya Tagaq episode is my current favourite. You probably shouldn’t listen to that particular episode unless you can have an open mind in relation to the seal hunt and traditional economies. Please listen with an open mind.
    • And of course theres the ones I’m sure everyone already listens to: The Moth, This American Life, Radio Lab, Stuff You Missed in History Class and Stuff You Should Know, and CBC podcasts a bunch of their programs as well. (I would recommend last night’s episode of Ideas featuring a lecture by Stephen Hawking for all the nerds out there. Here.  I am not a math person, but I like to think I understand Hawking’s jokes about colliding black holes. I like to try to understand. Its all kind of mind blowing. Be prepared for existential crises.)
  • I’m mostly channeling my limited energy into daydreaming about future pursuits because being sick is hard. I am starting to feel a bit better, but I am still quite weak. And these are primo skiing, snowshoeing, wood cutting, cheek tanning days. It is really hard to not be out there. So in the meantime, I focus on other things that make me feel good- ideas of a summer full of plants and chickens, and a sheepy future. I’m having to downgrade my usual summer dreaming. I will likely not be in shape by the beginning of hiking season to do any big backcountry, especially not while carrying a toddler, so I’m trying to get pumped instead about car camping adventures. Of which there are some awesome options here in the Yukon.
  • I have been making Maggie’s bum balm since before she was born. I’ve started sharing it with friends and now they want to buy some and/or the recipe. I’ll try to take some pictures and actually keep track of amounts etc (I am the WORST with recipes, I make shit up constantly) so I can share the recipe and process here. Stay tuned! (This probably won’t happen until my next babe free moment, which is why I’m able to chat with you now. Chris took Maggie to work with him. For reals.) But, yes- Butt balm! Also works well as lip balm, burn balm and, now that Maggie can open mason jars, she also recommends it as a light snack, best served by the fistful.
  • I wrote something about excuses for the ma books a week or two ago (I have no idea what day it is.) Please check it out here, and also indulge in all the other ma-wesomeness while you’re there.
  • Maggie is currently most happy while dancing to Basia Bulat’s new album, naked, while eating an apple. FOOL is apparently her favourite track on the album. Likely because a fool is exactly what her mother looks like while dancing along. Anything to make my girl grin.

green

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My mom is putting me to shame. Hauling the laundry and garbage and Maggie to town, doing all said laundry, and then hauling groceries and clean things back to our home in the woods. I definitely come by my stubbornness honestly.

There has also been a lot of sitting around reading, a book a day, which I also come by honestly. And its -30 degrees celcius. There is not anything else to do, aside from stocking the wood stove, and flip through seed catalogues dreaming of greener times.

Though the aurora borealis help us get our green fix. Maggie woke up last night and pointed out the window, signing “light”. This kid has no just how magic her world is, yet.

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