The worst thing about here
|Poling the boat across mud flats to launch|
People ask me, what is the worst thing about living in the Yukon wilderness? Is it bears?!
No. You take precautions, you carry bear spray. But fear recedes, just like any other threat you live with day to day. I’m no more scared of bears now than I was of muggers in London.
|Removing broken asbestos sheet|
How about the cold, when it’s 40, 50 below!? Nope. Love that.
|Collecting water by dog power every morning|
How about the dark? For the all the long nights of winter, we now have 24 hours of daylight and the clock changes so fast it makes you giddy.
The bugs though? You’re getting close now. The incessant itching of bites. The buzzing, nipping, whirring into my eyes, my ears, my nose. The cloud that builds around me as soon as I step outside and follows me wherever I go, so I exist in a fog of my own personal hell.
|There's always Neil's cooking to cheer us up, like this coconut cake|
I used to lay in bed hearing the hum of traffic all night in London. Now I hear the drone of mosquitoes, not just the occasional one that gets inside and has us both clapping the air like a pair of true believers at a Pentecostal Church, but the roar of a million buzzing insects.
|Mosquito bride. Making head veils|
They linger at the cabin eaves, trying to drill in. They fret at the windows and hover around the door. Some are fast and sharp as Spitfires. Others dance, just out of reach, like lace in the air, waiting, giggling.
|Chainsawing in head net|
I learned that this June has the perfect conditions for mosquitoes, and we may be dealing with 5-10 years’ worth of eggs, all hatched at once and rising in great clouds of misery. How lucky we couldn’t go to England for June, as planned. We might have missed this once in a decade event!
Well, if not mosquitoes, what is consistently the worst, most shocking, most distressing aspect of our lives here?
“Black people are less intelligent than white. It’s a fact. The proof is, there are no inventions from Africa.” (Part of a conversation about a white supremacist friend of the speaker.)
“Hey y’know why those Towel-heads wear diapers on their heads?” Opening gambit, speaker trying to be friendly with a joke.
“I’m never going to Vancouver cos there’s too many Asians.” Pressed for a reason the speaker told me he just “don’t like ‘em."
“Hitler may have killed a few thousand Jews, but no one talks about the good things he did.” Speaker argues with Neil when he points out it was millions, not thousands. I’m afraid I don’t recall what the “good things” were. I’ll leave you to ponder.
These are some highlights. There have been many more, but I thought I’d cover a few different races.
Happily, none of the speakers were Canadian, which makes me very proud, but all were white. Before we pat ourselves on the back here, there are white people in Dawson City who won't buy from First Nation businesses, or work with them.
Now, I have a lot of white friends, I really do, but something is very wrong here.
|Some of my white friends by the last of the icebergs, late May|
For those that imagine living deep in the splendour of nature and having time to contemplate the world will breed wisdom, an open heart or tolerance, let me pop your balloon with a big, fat resounding bang.
|Massive logs floating down river in high water|
It can do. I have met some of the most incredible, open-minded, intelligent, educated and ingenious people since moving here.
But there are plenty of times where, for myself included, living remote allows you to obsess on the most trivial of annoyances until you reach a fever pitch of rage. It removes you from any contact with other humans that might normalise your thinking, so really you can go very far down a rabbit hole of hate and paranoia.
Or just up your own ass.
And if you have access to the internet, you can disconnect yourself from any major, credible news source and go completely conspiracy theory, Neo-Nazi, race hate-tastic mental without anyone to ever tell you: You have lost the fucking plot.
|Ripping planks from logs our new cabin door|
I have wondered for some time about whether to write about this, but in the light of a police officer, on this continent, smiling to camera as he kneels for almost 9 minutes on a black man’s neck, I asked myself who I’m protecting.
The Yukon has erupted into green. It is so dripping with it, the term “greenwash” could have coined for the view from my window. We have rushed from white, through silty mud brown to shimmering, luscious, emerald-green.
Nature does not fight change and it happens here with an ease and rapidity that is breathtaking.
Where the great out-flow of ice gouged the riverbank clear of willows during break up, flowers have appeared. River beauty, lupins, vetch, daisies. Nothing bemoans the loss of the willows.
They grew there for 10 years or longer, they dominated the smaller plants, pushing everything else out. I thought they were permanent until the river broke high this year and swept them away.
|After a forest fire|
The forest fires that so terrified us last year and felled hundreds of beautiful trees, are now sprouting colonies of morel mushrooms. Some of the finest eating on the planet. The mushrooms do not care that they are born of destruction and neither do we when we pick them.
Robins thump around in the brush throwing leaves this way and that with all the noise and energy of grizzly bears. Their song echoes through the yard all night as if they own the place, but when the cold comes again, they will leave.
They won’t cling to the yard screaming shrilly for the sun to return and to remain in possession of all their summertime privileges.
As far as I can see, the creatures here do not look down on each other and they don’t hate. Only the squirrels hate, but then they are the silliest of our neighbours. If there was ever a critter to vote for Donald Trump, it would be these cantankerous rodents.
|Ramp into our new cabin|
If only humans could allow change as easily as the plants and creatures here. We cling to our power, our rotten institutions, our leaden ideas of history, our privilege, and our hate, like squirrels to a dead tree.
Let it fall. Like the leaves in autumn, the snow in winter and the rain that came today with the mightiest of windstorms after weeks and weeks of dry weather. There is nothing to fear from change. Let it fall, and let it fall swiftly like the seasons in this wild and majestic place.
|Pouring with rain. Of course, laundry's out|
We are hurtling through summer so by my next blog, I hope to have something to show for all the work we have done in the garden.
|Just planted, 27th May|
|16th June. Full of weeds|
We are already planning for winter and will do a supply run to Whitehorse now travel is permitted. If we don’t, we may be caught off guard because nothing stands still here. Not for a moment, and not even when it appears so deeply frozen it could never, ever change.
#blacklivesmatter #TheyMatterHere #indigenouslivesmatter