Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 3, 2020 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

A great place for hikes


“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both,

And be one traveler, long I stood,

And looked down one as far as I could,

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

The Road Not Taken. Robert Frost


I have been thinking about Robert Frost a lot lately, maybe because winter (and frost) will appear in the north much sooner than the south! I was an English major in University, at least that is what I’ve been told. I took quite a few English and Political Science courses. Even though I was less than a stellar student during my university days, a few things have stayed with me all these years including the Robert Frost poem. The late Senator, John B. Stewart, one of the great minds of his era, piqued my interest in politics. I used to be a political junkie, but I’ve kicked the habit in recent years. It has always been a blood sport but it has gone way beyond that.

I was joking with family the other day, talking about my University days. Even though I can crank out 1,000 words doing one of these posts with little effort, I would be hard pressed to write an essay on anything I learned nearly fifty years ago. It might fill the back of a postage stamp. Remember when those were 2 cents? There was one standout achievement, though, if I may be so bold to say. Did I have the highest mark in English 350 taught by the witty and devilish Rev. Rod “Moonbeam” MacSween? Nope. Was I the best player on the St.F.X. football team? Wha??? “You played football, Len?” That is an epic story in itself. The biggest challenge was to find a helmet that would fit over my afro. Was I the premier writer for the university newspaper? Hardly, but I was able to accurately report the scores from various varsity sports.

No. My number one achievement, the thing that I am most proud off, was that I learned how to play bridge in the basement of the library. I can’t tell you a single thing about The Miller’s Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales but I can tell you what to bid if you’re the dealer and you have a 7 card suit in your hand. Bridge is a fantastic card game and I have met many, many wonderful people sitting around a bridge table. A few years ago, I was recruited as a spare for a weekly game. Two of the regulars were in their 90s. Their minds were still razor sharp and I often wondered if bridge was one of those things that helped keep them so mentally agile. Besides playing cards, there were lots of stories and laughter. I think laughter is highly underrated when it comes to the determinants of good health.

Robert Frost’s poem is a metaphor for life. We all arrive at junctions in our lives where we have to make a decision, whether it is a career choice, choosing a life partner or choosing apple pie or blueberry at a restaurant. When we reflect on our lives, we often wonder if we had taken a different path, where life may have taken us.

Man, you might think that I took a lot of philosophy courses at University. Wrong. Categorically wrong. I took a grand total of one and that was because it was mandatory in my Education year.

Back to Frost.

Last weekend, I went walking with a friend and work colleague. Initially, I thought that there were only a few roads in and around our village, but I have discovered that there are many. In the dead of winter, it’s harder to tell as the landscape is buried under snow and ice. We were walking along the road to Akulavik when we saw a road veering off to our left. My friend asked if I was up to exploring this, as yet untraveled road. For the next four hours, we climbed mountains, crossed streams and tip toed through bogs. There were fields awash in blueberries and several swaths of multi -colored flowers. It was magical.

We also came upon two sets of caribou antlers and took photos of ourselves holding the antlers in front of our faces. Of course, upon review of the photos, we had a great laugh. There’s that laughter thing again. On our return route in the early afternoon, we noticed many hunters coming in our direction on their 4-wheelers. We wondered if, back in the village, they had looked at infrared images of the tundra and saw two racks of antlers!

Later that same day, I invited some friends over for caribou stew. You might remember that two weeks ago, a local man had generously given me several cuts of caribou including stewing meat. The stew was passable for a first effort. However, I noticed a few of my guests pawing at the ground afterward! Is that normal behaviour?

My guests were all work colleagues, some of them just out of quarantine. We sat around after dinner and shared Covid stories from our respective communities. We had people from B.C., Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia, a pretty good cross section of Canada. By the way, B.C.’s Provincial Health officer has received such notoriety that they are thinking of renaming the province, B.H.C. – Bonnie Henry Country.

Like everywhere else in the country, we are getting set to return to school in the next week or so. On Monday, we were allowed back in the school for the first time after the school underwent a major face lift. It’s hard to wrap my head around our instructions for day one. We had to bring buckets and rags, wear masks and use hand sanitizer. Who would have ever imagined that this would be the list of back to school supplies!

“I shall be telling this with a sigh,

Somewhere age and ages hence,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. Last weekend, I had the privilege of accompanying a colleague for a hike over a mountain and into a massive valley with a river running through it. Her husband died suddenly on the tundra four years ago and she wanted to go back to where it happened, the first time she had gone since his passing. It was a glorious day. When we reached the river, we stopped for lunch. We sat on large rocks dotting the middle of the river. Her husband walked along this same river many times on hunting expeditions. We talked but we also listened in silence to the gurgling of the water as it made its way to the bay. On our return trip, we sat on the side of the mountain picking blueberries and staring at the magnificent landscape.

The land has a way of healing.

Have a great weekend.


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