Back in Dawson City

Dear Vi,

We’ve been back in Dawson City for just over a week, and I’ll tell ya, it feels good.

This morning as I was walking Samson on the trail beside the highway, his inspection of a clump of grass was interrupted by the sound of an ATV approaching from behind. We stepped to the side as a child rode past. Miniature vehicle, tiny helmet, pink Disney princess backpack bouncing between her shoulder blades. Because someone has taught her good off-road manners, she slowed as she passed. Two eyes on the road, two hands on the handlebars, focussed and full of the responsibility she’d been given.

Dawson City is a place where elementary school kids can drive their own selves to town.

Dawson City is also a place where the young men who serve you in the restaurant are as likely to wear skinny pants and man-buns as not. They’re in Dawson for the summer, earning their university money or else some extra credit in the school of life experience. One or two have beads and strips of leather braided into their long beards.

The other young men you’ll see are wearing ball caps and driving big trucks, loaders, and backhoes. Or flying helicopters or bush planes, or driving flat-bottomed boats into town from Moosehide or West Dawson.

Well, so are the old men, for that matter.

They all gather together in the bars after hours to slouch in their chairs, fingers tapping the tops of beer bottles, laughing out of wide mouths and red faces, legs spread, the fronts of their bodies concave because they’re sitting in the shape of the letter C.

The dance teacher in me wants to tell them to sit up straight.

When you look at these young men, you understand how the old men got that way.

Dawson City is a place where a beer costs only six bucks on tap, but a pound of butter costs eight. And a pound of bacon? Thirteen-fifty.

Hey there, Dawson City. It’s good to be back. I missed you.

Book Review: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kelly Harms

Dear Vi,

Summer reading season is upon us and I am all about the lighthearted, happy books right now.

Why? Because lately I’m finding all the unkindness in the world is wearing me down. Angst and anger shouts at me every time I look at social media, and sometimes it’s hard to get it out of my head. Seriously, sometimes it wakes me up in the night.

So all that disturbing soul-stealing stuff we’re surrounded with?  I don’t want any of it in the novels I read right now. No thank you, I want to be transported away from all of that this summer.

I want to live in Amy Byler’s world for a couple of weeks.

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City. Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps.

This book fits the bill if you’re looking for a light summer read. It’s women’s fiction sharing the front porch swing with chick-lit… without all that annoying pattering talk that chick-lit usually comes with. It’s intelligent chick-lit. (Is this a category? It should be.)

Kelly Harms has written a character with depth. Amy Byler is an intelligent woman; a school librarian (yay!) who is besieged with doubts over being away from her kids for an entire summer. She’s given the unexpected gift of a “momspringa” – a summer of discovering another side of herself. What does she do with it? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out – I’m not gonna spoil it for you.

Sure the book has the expected tropes – fairy-tale romance, complete wardrobe makeover, insights into what’s really important in life. Of course it does! It’s supposed to! But it’s also got great conversations about things like library science and getting kids to read. And wine! That’s what makes it a great summer read.

I didn’t want War & Peace, folks… I wanted a well-written, intelligent woman rediscovering herself, and that’s what I got.

I received this book as an Advance Reading Copy. My opinions are strictly my own.

What’s on your summer reading list? Are you feeling the need to de-stress with a lighthearted novel, too? Let me know and we’ll compare notes.

Tulips and other Small Things that bring Joy

Dear Vi,

Yesterday was the official first day of spring.  The sun has crossed the celestial equator, moving northward.

I celebrated the Vernal Equinox by going outside to inspect my flower beds. Were my tulips poking green tips up through the chilly dirt yet? Yes! Yes, they were.  Small, green tips about an inch high, full of promise.

I can’t begin to say how happy that made me. Even though we’ve had a pretty good winter (by my standards, anyway), I still felt a burst of joy at the first sign of the flowers the deer find such a delicacy each spring. I am crossing my fingers they forget to check the edges of my driveway this year.

Tulips confirmed, I came inside, made a cup of tea, and tidied my sewing room. As I ran a damp dusting cloth over newly cleared surfaces, I appreciated all the things I love about this space: the way the lace curtain hangs to the side of the glass door leading out to the deck, my shelves with their bins of colourful scraps, the sampler blocks I found while tidying and impulsively arranged on the design wall, Samson watching me from his pillow in the corner, the sight of Bastion Mountain rising up into the sky, stone grey and green against the blue sky right outside my window.

Here, I’ll hold my camera up to the glass and show you:

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that bring the most joy.

What small things bring you joy?