Tippy Canoe and Broccoli, Too

Dear Vi,

I thought you might like to hear a bit of what I’ve been doing.In case you can’t tell from the picture, I planted a garden!Actually, I created a garden completely from scratch.I purchased bags of soil, plants, and seeds when we passed through Whitehorse last May………and when we got here I scrounged some old cement forms to hold the dirt.My neighbor Sally very generously let me shovel out several buckets of dirt from her dirt stash to supplement what I brought with me.Yes, people in Dawson City have dirt stashes. And least you think otherwise, I’d like to inform you that romance is alive and well up here – her boyfriend bought Sally a pile of dirt for her birthday one year. And also in case you’re wondering, yes, it was the perfect gift. I’ve been sharing salad greens and produce which is really cool, considering.Everyone has been enjoying the greenery. Amazing, who knew you could grow a kitty cat in only 4 inches of dirt?And of course there are flowers……how could there not be flowers?How’s your garden growing?

ps you’ll need to excuse any typos…I’m posting on my phone!

The Weather Outside: Frightful and Delightful

Dear Vi,

While my friends on the west coast are enjoying a bit of a cool and rainy summer, here in Dawson City, Yukon things have been quite delightful. Well, for the most part, anyway.We did go through a couple of weeks of being choked by smoke from forest fires, but thankfully no longer. Now we are enjoying cool mornings, blazing hot afternoons, and evening thunderstorms.There’s something shivery and delightful about being cozy inside while the storm rages at your door. Especially when you’re living in a tin can (er…travel trailer) as we are.Thunderstorms also make for great photography.Unfortunately, they also make more forest fires.Have you enjoyed a good crack and boom thunderstorm lately?

A Stearman Biplane in Dawson City, Yukon

Dear Vi,

I believe I have not yet told you what brought Kelly and I to Dawson City last summer…and what brought us back again this year.

This is it – a vintage Stearman biplane. She’s a beauty, eh? Kelly was hired to ferry her from Ontario to Dawson last summer.

It was a long trip because the airplane has a very short range.

Also, the it’s an endurance test for the pilot. The trip was done in 33 legs, 44 hours flying in total. He averaged two legs per day, if that helps put it into perspective.

A ground crew followed along below, with extra avgas in the back. She does like to guzzle the gasoline.

This particular craft was manufactured in 1942 as a WWII trainer.

 

She was given a paint job over the winter. Now she shines in the Great River Air colours of blue and cream.

At long last, Kelly has landed his dream summer job…giving rides in a vintage biplane in the skies over Dawson City.

 

 

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.

Good Bye, Dawson City (until next year)

Dear Vi,

Our Yukon summer sojourn is over. We drove away from Dawson City two days ago.

Tomorrow will see the Yukon behind us for another winter.

I took a lot of walks, saw two parades, read a lot of books, made my 60,000 word goal on the next novel, made some new friends, and learned some interesting things this summer. And I still haven’t told you what brought us up here in the first place.

It would be so easy to stay and make a home here…so easy to knit myself into the community.

We’ll be back next summer, for four months this time. Four!I’ve got some planning to do! Maybe I’ll teach a dance class, see if any local writers want to get together, join the fitness club, make a quilt by hand, start another novel…

Life is grand and full of possibilities!

Autumn Knitting

Dear Vi,

Well, the frost is on the pumpkin here, and our time in Dawson is nearly done. There are so many things I haven’t shown you yet! This is my view out the front window: a dredge pond surrounded by tailings piles left by the dredges sometime in the early 1900s. The rocks make a great background to show you the knitting projects that have kept me busy. We will be loading up the camper and heading south sometime next week. I had hoped to have this sweater finished and a good start on a second one by summer’s end, but my ambition exceeded my capacity. Kelly has one last big trip to fly this weekend, and I will tell you all about it when he gets back. Today I’m off to town in search of warmer clothing. Autumn comes early this far north. I hope you’re keeping warm, too!

The Streets of Dawson City

Dear Vi,You might have heard that the streets of Dawson City are paved with gold,but the truth is, they aren’t paved at all.Here’s evidence: boot brushes outside the door of every establishment.And miles of boardwalk.This summer has been a writing retreat for me. I left home with a sketchy idea for my next novel, and today I’m well over halfway there. I’m writing about 1,000 words every time I sit down, which has been about 5 days per week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. When I’m not writing, I’m reading All The Books, which is so incredibly delicious – a summer of unlimited time.

And I’ve been accompanying Sam on his walks, of course. We love to walk up and down the streets, the boardwalk sometimes booming under our feet, sometimes squeaking , often soft with age.

I brought quilting projects and everything I need to sew a blouse, but haven’t taken my sewing machine out even once. And that’s just fine. It’s okay to stop once in awhile to wade in the water and smell the grass.

Don’t you agree?

Dawson City, Yukon: old and new, side-by-side

Dear Vi,

Dawson City sits at the place where the Klondike and Yukon Rivers merge.

The Klondike River is on the left, the much larger Yukon River on the right

In many ways, the town itself mirrors this merging. The rivers flow side-by-side for a ways, the line between the muddy Yukon and the (slightly) clearer Klondike easy to discern. And the city flows side-by-side, too. Old and new holding hands the way you did with your best friend back in kindergarten. Yes, Dawson City is a historic gold rush town, fun to visit.

The community library is located within Robert Service School. How cool is that?

But it’s also a town where people live and work and raise their kids. Old and new are side by side everywhere you look.This is where I buy my groceries:And the liquor store (in the old harness shop!):My favourite restaurant:The local community radio station (with proud show hosts):The Gold Rush, past and present, all coming together where the rivers meet. And the First Nations…don’t assume I’ve forgotten them. Their story is the oldest of all. But I’ll save that for another time, another letter.

Languishing Along the River in Dawson City, Yukon

Dear Vi,

Last Friday Sam and walked a well-worn trail along the side of the Yukon River in Dawson City.The city was preparing for the annual Dawson City Music Festival. Facing the river, we could hear the echo of a band bouncing back at us from the opposite shore.. It sounded as though the very rocks and trees were singing.Above the trail is another: a double -decker trail along the top of the dike that protects the town from spring flooding. It boasts some lovely places to sit.Life is slow at the moment… these past weeks…these past months. Here at the top of the world I search out the internet in interesting locations. The library, the airport, parked in my truck before the laundry at a motel down the street.

The internet up here is as slow as I am. It takes several long minutes to load each picture.

I’ve decided it’s time to start querying for an agent to represent Holding Space again.

Like me, it has languished too long. What have you let languish?