Everyone got excited about a light in the sky after sunset tonight, here in Dayton, OH.
We all went outside and it looked to my eye like it was moving, drifting, changing its brightness. Someone said it might be Mercury or Jupiter, so we all looked—and sure enough, that was where Mercury was supposed to be (though a little high). I’m sure now it was probably a weather balloon… shiny and drifting in the breeze… so bright.
We had a debate online about what it was, and it reminded me of this article I wrote about 10 years ago when I lived in the Yukon Territory (Spring, 2010 issue of Yukon North of Ordinary).
It was probably the best article I ever wrote–certainly one of the most fun–and it was for the magazine Yukon North of Ordinary, the in-flight magazine of Air North. I was asked to write it as a science fiction writer looking into sightings of UFOs. Everyone who commissioned this article thought it would be funny, light-hearted, and that I would have a great time talking aliens with folks, but that I would know the difference between fact and fiction.
A friend of mine in Kentucky asked for any tips I might know about dealing with cold weather since I lived in the Yukon for nine years. I told him I’d share what I could. Not definitive, and many other Yukoners have great strategies too. These are just my thoughts, presented humbly from my own experience. Not a cold weather expert at all–just someone who went though ten winters, down to -50C once and made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of advice and help. Fellow Yukoners, feel free to add your advice in the comments. I know I missed important tips! And you are all awesome at cold weather living. Please add any advice for your Southern brothers and sisters.
Hey Graham. I’d be happy to share what I know. Personally I learned that cold is a game you play with the outside. Dress in layers. One cool sweater over a shirt won’t do. Better to have multilayers that will trap pockets of warm air. I suggest three. And a good down-filled coat (lots of pockets of warm air there). Gloves are important to always keep on. Hands can get really chapped and stiff very quickly. I learned that even a short walk to the car and back in -20C would chap my fingers quickly. I liked those black ninja masks with air holes that skiers sometimes wear. Allows you to cove half your face and still breathe.
Pace yourself. Don’t go so fast as to breathe hard. You don’t want -20C air in your lungs. Always breathe in your nose. Your mother was right. Your nose hairs will freeze at -20C and below. But it just feels prickly. There’s no damage. It’s actually a cool experience.
Cover as much as your face as you can–but a furry hood can set your face back far enough that it will help.
Take breaks in your shoveling. Warm up. Don’t run your cars if the temps falls below -30C. Unless you plug them in every night and a heater under your oil pan keeps your oil warm. Or you keep them in a garage. But still, Yukoners knew that operating most cars after -30C was extra wear and tear. We’d all take the bus or ski to work. Lol.
Hiking boots are fine with warm wool socks. OH long johns are priceless. I wore mine for the whole winter in the north. They make a huge difference. Polypropylene longjohns are awesome and thin by Terramar and other companies. Well worth the 30 bucks or so.
If I think of more ill let you know. I’m just planning on spending more time inside the house. If you dress warmly, in layers, you will be fine. And playing in the snow is great, but probably not below -20 unless you are used to it. And if there’s a strong wind, I’d advise hot cocoa and watching a movie.
* Just a note, many Yukoners did drive after -40C. Had to get to work. But most all would say it’s not good for your car. But Yukoners take pride in being able to function fully in cold weather. Nothing is closed because of cold weather–few events are ever canceled. I once got in trouble for canceling class when I taught at Yukon College when the temp was to drop to -50C. “We are the standard,” I was told. “If the Yukon closes things, it must be horrible.” And -50, though rare, wasnt horrible. Lol.
Good luck in the cold! It doesn’t have to stop your fun, but while the Yukon had roads cleared in an hour, because we were ready for it, and had extra crews, and because we had drivers used to winter driving with their winter tires, roads were safe for us. For everyone else, maybe think twice about going out. Your drivers aren’t used to winter driving, your road crews may be overwhelmed because your cities have more roads to clear. Your city will be doing the best it can. Stay in and watch Netflix while the world goes through the Ice Age until Wednesday. Good luck and enjoy experiencing a little bit of Yukon*.
Hope this helps.
*PS The Yukon isn’t responsible for cold weather, even though the weather people keep saying that this “cold air mass” is brought to you by Canada, or the Arctic…. they aren’t made in the Yukon. They ARE, however, first enjoyed in the Yukon.
Again: Fellow Yukoners, feel free to add your advice below. I know I missed important tips! And you are all awesome at cold weather living. Please add any advice for your Southern brothers and sisters. I titled this “Yukoners” for that reason. Thanks!
A really nice article by Dan Davidson appeared in the Whitehorse Star on Friday, April 19. Alistair Maitland did the photo. I appreciate them both. I think this Festival will be a lot of fun. It’s always good to get to teach Yukon high school students as part of the Young Authors Conference as well.
The Festival starts with a big reading at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre Tuesday night at 7pm. The Young Authors Conference is held the next two days after that in FH Collins Library and then we head off Friday to Haines Junction for a reading.
Organizer Sara Davidson has done a great job at gathering diverse writers together. Yukoner Dennis Allen, as well as Drew Hayden Taylor and Carrie Mac and Beverley Brenna.
How do you write about your “faith”? How do you describe the indescribable, the ineffable, the otherworldly? the grief or joy or miracle or peace or disappointment that you have because of your faith? Everyone can argue about the value or lack of value in “religion”–and it’s an easy connect-the-dots to create your own pictures of what organized religion has done in the world. It’s harder to write about personal faith or your personal interactions with religion–what keeps you going, what happened to you that you know no one would believe, about the anguish of trying to live in a real, faulty, fragile world, when others ask you to strive for peace, patience, happiness, even joy.
This writing workshop will explore how people write about these very personal experiences, or their thoughts about faith and religion and its very real presence in their lives, or the lives of those around them. We’ve had students write about their relationships with their parents, their children, their grandchildren, experiences in nature, in confronting others who aren’t on the same page. We have had students who are believers, non-believers, unsure, people of various faiths. All faiths are welcome–come with what’s important to you, open to what is important to others. This isn’t a dogma class. It’s not a class to teach you from the top down. It’s for you to teach us from the ground up through your experiences, your writing.
So, I’ve always wanted to be a bear. Sarah MacDougall’s album, The Greatest Ones Alive, is being released at the Yukon Arts Centre on Saturday, Nov 12, and Erin and I decided to promote the album by being the dancing bears on the cover of her album.
Costumes rented, we danced up and down Main Street. We had a great time. Sarah MacDougall was there, and captured us in a video and put us dancing to her beautiful song, “Sometimes You Lose, Sometimes You Win.”
I already love her CD. And I was already looking forward to seeing her live in concert. Now I feel deeply honoured to be part of her VIDEO!! And I get to be the bear I always wanted to be. I think I was born to be a mascot–what do you think??
Tickets are still available (667-8574, box office).
I would go on and on about a) her music, and b) the existential moment of being a bear, but I’ll let you watch the video instead.
It was the only airplane to emit a hijacked signal on 9/11/2001. It was heading to New York City, from Seoul, via Anchorage Alaska. Fighter jets were scrambled. A whole city, Whitehorse, was given 15 minutes warning that a hijacked plane was heading to their small airport, an airport just above the center of town. Every school was evacuated, parents were told to pick up their kids, and a giant 747 escorted by jets whose missiles were locked on target came into view.
Max Fraser, local Whitehorse filmmaker, has put together one of the most intriguing “untold” stories of 9/11 in his documentary, Never Happen Here: the Whitehorse 9/11 story. Only a few hours after four planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and in Western Pennsylvania, Whitehorse is told that a hijacked plane is on its way to their city. They have 15 minutes to get ready.
Imagine the panic, after watching everything happen in New York that day, hearing that it’s coming to your town in 15 minutes. No one else got any warning that planes would be falling from the sky. The morning of 9/11 was a surprise–there was no anticipation, no expectation. While nothing can take away from the horror of 9/11 in the United States, or can compare to the tragedy of that event, Whitehorse’s story has an interesting angle no other story has. It is because of the horror of 9/11 that Whitehorse had something to fear. A disaster of 9/11 proportions was coming our way, only a few hours after we’d been shocked watching the panic and destruction hit New York City. What would you do if you knew a 9/11 was coming to your city?
I haven’t been to a political rally before. I went to the NDP rally just to see what they were like, and because I had met Liz Hanson.
Meeting a candidate makes a difference. Perhaps you, candidate, wonder what all that door knocking is for—or you, a citizen, are annoyed by all the door knocking that happens around an election. You both wonder why anyone really does it. Don’t all the commercials, all the posters, all the op-ed pieces help you know a candidate? Doesn’t it make you likely to know how to vote? Nope. (Ok, sometimes it has to. Not every person can meet the Presidential or Prime Minsterial candidate. I voted for Obama from what I read, what I saw on TV, watching him at rallies, in speeches, at town halls.)
Meeting someone changes our minds. Most of us cannot be changed purely by intellectual discovery—some a-ha moment that gives us the clarity to change our minds about an issue. Most of us recall an event—a moment that has another person in it—that made us feel the way we do about that person, about their race, issue, belief, etc.
Encounters. We change because of encounters.
Liz Hanson, NDP candidate, was canvassing somewhere between 7th and Strickland—and I was housesitting for a friend. She knocked on my door and told me who she was and what she was doing. I politely told her that I was an immigrant and therefore not allowed to vote in the election. Seriously, I’m not proud of that: immigrants should be involved in politics, in understanding and learning about their new country, even if they currently don’t have a vote. But, frankly, I probably felt a little indignant about the irony of being canvassed when I don’t have a vote—I probably thought that she would just go away if I showed my political impotence.
I mean, really. Why would she spend her time on an immigrant without a vote? She couldn’t reap any immediate benefit from spending time with me.
I went Saturday night to The River, a Nakai production, with Michael Greyeyes directing a play written by David Skelton, Judith Rudakoff and Joseph Tisiga. To be frank, I wasn’t sure if I was interested in what I thought would be a sermon on homelessness. I just didn’t want the guilt. (And yes, I’m ashamed I actually said that—but I’m human and honest, and homelessness seems so much larger than I can comprehend–and I don’t know how to react “properly” or have any effect on the problem. I suspect avoiding the issue is part of that problem–and yet, it’s the easiest thing to do.)
But local playwright David Skelton co-wrote the play, and I’m a huge fan of David and Nakai. So I went.
I was blown away. It wasn’t a sermon. It wasn’t a guilt trip. It was eye-opening, and it was riveting, and it was brilliant.
In a nutshell, brilliant writing, directing and acting take you into the vulnerable world of the homeless in Whitehorse. Inspired by first person stories, collected by the writers through interviews over several years, that interviewing technique gives this play a realistic quality you won’t find in stories about homeless people. You want to catch this play fast. It’s here for a limited time, limited seating. You won’t be disappointed. I predict a long life for this play, and many, many performances across Canada.
We hear a lot about the future of New York, of San Francisco, of England. Ever wondered what the NORTH would look like in 50 years? What would be happening, what kinds of trends here in the Yukon? What kinds of possibilities? Is it all going to be dark from climate change, or will we adapt as we go? I think it’s going to be a good Future if we can take better care of the Now.
Three years ago I created a five part series called “Yukon 2058” for the 50th anniversary of CBC. They wanted something that celebrated their first 50 years, so I offered them a look at the next 50 years. My theme was to eventually come back to why CBC is important, why local programming trumps National programming, why having a large staff in a small place like the Yukon is important. I tried weave my opinions about what is good about CBC, and what is bad about the trends happening to CBC, into a narrative. Yukon 2058 is the result. 5 parts. The narrative of a CBC reporter wondering what his future will be, trying to find where he belongs in a rapidly competitive market.