Solstice

Yesterday, I went out alone to bring in the tent.

This seems like a small thing, but I rarely go out alone, and when I do I never go very far from the village. I wanted this independence, this next test, but I was hesitant. I would have to go out beyond my comfort zone on the snowmachine (a vehicle I’m still new to) while hauling a sled (for the first time) and do a demanding chore alone in the cold. A chore I’d never done before at all – the tent had been out there since September, when we brought it out by canoe, and I’d only ever helped put it up last year. Geoff always went back to take it down alone.

My heart was in my throat the whole way across Maggie Lake (I broke my own trail through the fluffy new snow). I had to bushwhack up through a slough and onto the hill where the tent was pitched, and I’d never done much bushwhacking on the snowmachine, so it was exhilarating and terrifying. When I got to camp, startled to be there with so little trouble, not having hit a tree or flipped the sled, I shut down the Bravo (bangbang, bang… bang). The silence fell in on my shoulders like the snow.

And it was fine. Lovely, even. I didn’t spend the whole time looking over my shoulder for lions, tigers and bears. I worked. I had to hammer and dig and chip and lever every stake out of the frozen tundra. I stripped out of my coat and let the falling snow melt on my long-johns. It melted on my hands, too, and when I dismantled the stove, my bare fingers stuck to the metal and popped off – puck puck puck. I put my gloves back on, after a moment or two of that.

I rode in at dusk (it’s always dusk when it’s not night, but I mean around 3:00) without too much trouble. I hit a stump and nearly got bucked off, and there was that steep bit in the bushes where I thought the machine might pitchpole, so I walked alongside, but, all things considered, it was a roaring success. I could do it again.

How awesome is that?

Happy Solstice, everybody.

Keely (newly minted junior varsity arctic badass)

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5 thoughts on “Solstice

    • sky: hugged!
      I was thinking of you the other day – You’re a dog-loving lady of the north: Have you ever done any skijoring? I’m thinking it might be time to look for a companion for my solo-adventures, preferably one who enjoys snow sports…

      • Yeah, I’ve done skijoring, but none of my dogs liked it enough to actually pull consistently (and two of the dogs were sled dogs!). Lazy buggers! So if you want to be sure your potential future dog loves to pull, getting a young adult dog might be better than getting a puppy ๐Ÿ™‚
        I had a friend whose Lab was totally crazy about skijoring, so you may not even have to get a sled dog mutt (who can be a real pain off-leash in the bush because they often tend to have a strong chase instinct and the inclination to listen just when they want to – speaking from my own and multiple friends’ experience).

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