Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I just came across a copy of this letter that I wrote on March 16, 2006.
It all seems so very long ago and yet...
the feelings are still as fresh and true
as they were the day I wrote them down!
(the following photos were attached to the letter)
. On the trail with Sean

The perfect winter trail

Working my way up Bear Creek Summit

Home again (October 29, 2005)
.Christmas morning in the cabin 2005

. The chute - My first race!

Dear Mr Sutherland,

Back in about 1977 you taught a group of interesting young kids (at least, I'd like to remember us as such!!) We were in Gr 7......

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold
And the Arctic trails have their secret tails
That would make your blood run cold.
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights
But the queerest they ever did see
Was the night on the marge of Lake La barge
Where I cremated Sam McGee..."

Did you know that there actually is a Lake La Barge just outside of Whitehorse??

You made us memorize the first 1/2 of that 4 page poem...I never thought I would survive the assignment!! Instead, I more than survived it....Dad helped me the night before I was to stand in front of you & the entire class to re-sight it. He said, "It isn't just has have to tell the story!!" & I did!! The next morning I stood there. I delivered a story that would follow me all of the days of my life! I didn't stop at the 1/2 way point...I delivered that poem right to the very last word...ALL 4 pages!! I (with very little prompting) still can!!

I tell you this because, on July 7th 2005, just eight months & 8 days ago, I arrived in the Yukon. As a teacher you affect the lives of children even when you don't know it! You, along with Robert Service, inspired a dream in a little grade 7 student some 29 years ago. It's taken YEARS to get here but not a day has gone by that I haven't dreamt of meeting the soul of Sam!!

It's easy to let dreams remain only that. If we take a chance on them we could be disappointed. How could reality ever live up to the images conjured in our minds eye?? Well Mr Sutherland, let me tell you about THIS dream!! Eight months ago I was living in Bowmanville, a quaint little town. I was not thrilled with life or overly happy in my work BUT I was surrounded by the security of friends & family (not discounting my dog, Wellington). Today, I am living at the foot of the Saint Elias Mountain Range in a community called Haines Junction. You might find it on a map 100 miles west of Whitehorse. It is the "Gateway to the Kluane National Park". The mountains are like nothing I've ever experienced...they greet me in the morning, often against a bright blue ski with their snow peeks rugged & high. I mush dogs (I can run up to a team of 6 now) down a trail that would take your breath away, some days by its beauty & others, by it's COLD! The Rubby Range is to the Gee (right) and Mt Decoli & Archibald are to the Haw (left). The moose tracks are often fresh & the Ptarmigan plentiful. A X-fox crossed my path one day....It's a good thing the huskies were too tired to take notice!! The Northern Lights are like magic!! When I woke the first morning after seeing them, it felt like they had not been real!! First Nations people believe that if you whistle at them they will come down to can be sure I will give it my best try when they are back again!! I have a heard of Elk that I see on a regular basis. They are about 100 strong & a sight for any passerby. In my travels I've seen the wild Bison so close to my car that, you’d think I was stretching the truth...But I am not. Oh, and you should see & hear the Ravens!! They play games, hang upside down in trees, steal the dogs’ food bowls & then hang them from branches. They "talk". Their vocabulary is more extensive than any other in the animal kingdom except for humans!! I climbed a mountain for my 40th birthday & sleep every night to the sounds of my 37 sled dogs howling in a ring...I live in a cabin in the woods. I have no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, The TV/VCR has been hooked up to the generator on the rarest of occasions to watch a movie so, I'm a bit at a loss when it comes to the Young & the Restless these days!! THIS is my Yukon....People are happy...they are free to be themselves & the land itself is medicine for the soul. I could not have dreamt this!! The North has far surpassed the images in my mind's eye!!

I have 39 dogs (2 in the cabin) !!!!! One travelled across Canada with me...I've adopted the other 38 (& one cat) since meeting Sean FitzGerald.....Can you believe it has taken me 40 years & 3000 miles to find my best friend & partner?? And to think, he has relatives in OSHAWA!!

I am the happiest girl on the face of the earth & it all started with a grade 7 lesson on poetry in OUR class so very long ago!

I work in a school here. I love it dearly. Some days are trying as you well know. But I think back to my favourite teacher & how he had such an impact....I wonder, 29 years down the road, will someone remember something that I did or said?

In the eyes of your students, you were always the greatest Mr S!! Thanks for "Sam McGee" - my road map to the North :) You know, Sam really should have "sucked it up" & survived the really is awesome when the sun comes back!!

I hope this finds you well.
1977 Gr 7


I never did get a response to my letter, it doesn't really matter though. I just hope he received it and that maybe, just maybe...

it meant something to him!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy memories of winter
flooded my mind today...
And I smiled
Loic & me running across Kathleen Lake
Angie & me have quality girl-time
out on the lake!
My beautiful AlPine (front) & Duchass (back)
getting ready for a run
My Duchass & Ivy (back)...
two brilliant females in my life!
My pups were trying to get Sean to move faster!
The trail was waiting & he wasn't going
fast enough for these girls!
Only seconds before take off the energy is
always so intense...
... and when we are finally on the trail,
there is nothing so peaceful!
Here, I was working the vet-check
for the Yukon Quest...
What great folks & What awesome dogs!
Wellington LOVES winter
and he always looks so handsome in the snow
And the girls do too
but in their case...they look beautiful
Now that Adelaide & Sarah are
getting so much bigger
I'm thinking that this winter sure could shape up
to be an interesting one!
As much as I love
winter snow & Northern Lights
the Yukon is magical
no matter what the season

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This is an example of a
welcomed guest!
A week or so ago, 50,000 lbs of Sockeye Salmon
were making there way south on the Alaska Highway.
The transport truck carrying them turned over.
All on ice & neatly gutted,
they waited for the locals to claim them...
This is the only one we got but...
I'd call this fish,
a welcomed guest
in my humble cabin ;)
What a shining example of road kill
I'm good with that
This is an example of
unwelcomed guests!
This has been the best summer for bugs ever,
but the worst for wasps!
Everyone is getting stung &
these huge nests are cropping up everywhere!
They are nesting under decks
in dog houses
under garbage cans
and in the ground!
Stepping outside of the cabin is like
stepping onto a battle field!
The ground actually hums from first thing in the morning
till bed time rolls around
and what is even more horrible...
and they have taken over my lettuce & spinach beds!
Now that is WAR!
God love the propane torch
that Sean lights up to greet these most
unwelcomed guests!
Wether it be 50,000 lbs of Sockeye or
billions of angry wasps,
it just backs up the saying...
Larger Than Life"