We stole to Oregon for a quick post-holiday reset. Nothing beats breakfast campfires, pelicans, good friends, and warm sun on glassy port-orford surf.
Happy new year everyone; hope the holidays brought you a little piece of peace.
ᑕᒃᓯᖅᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᓄᓇ ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᓕᖅᐸᑦ ᓴᖅᑭᐅᒥᕗᖅ.
Taksiqtillugu nuna takuksauliqpat saqqiumivuq.
When the fog lifts and one is able to see farther out to the land
With great luck I am once again in Nunavut. Delicious adventure abounds. I am currently perched in a small town named Coral Harbour on South-hampton Island. The year is coming to a close. On Friday I will go home and experience my personal solstice: once I turn South the days will never be this long again. Sun rising after 9, twilight misting across the dim hours of day, then setting in to darkness just after lunch. The air is predictably cold. If I don’t first tumble across banked ice as I walk to work, the space between boot and ground produces a satisfying high-pitched squeak of frozen snow that carries my mood forward for hours. I have been North for three weeks- delivering babies, meeting mamas, taking blood pressures. The normal tasks of my north and south life. No different than home, I spend hours trying to convince folks to drink a little water, smoke fewer smokes, take some vitamins even though they are made so large one can’t help but barf. Like down South, much of this process is futile but us helpers like to help so we offer our magic formulas for quitting, leaving, financing, educating, and living anyway. Different is running to the health centre at two am and hoping no one delivers before I have time to warm up the car as twenty minute of idling before driving is a golden rule I don’t dare cross. I screw up all the time at language, not spilling coffee everywhere, and messing up the blasted electronic medical system meditech, but i really don’t want to break the car. Different are the families waiting in hordes at the birth centre with toddlers tucked in warm parka hoods (amautis) and cousins hoarding the coffee mate in the snack room. The collective joy when a baby boy arrives and pounds of new clothes seem to materialize from the northern store in an instant of relatives and love. The harshness of a world where not every child is wanted, not every woman wants to be a mother; and the challenges of riding their wave without dragging my entire heart along. The quiet fear when things slip sideways and help is an airplane and two icy runways away. Different are the sassy outpost nurses, the shared housing, the snow machines trying to kill me on the non existent sidewalks, and the dinner invitations that materialize out of thin air because we are all in this together in this frozen town. The sense we need each other so we might as well laugh as the stores drain out from bad weather (with no cargo plane in sight), the past makes you sad, and the future could be hazy. Might as well laugh, strike up the bingo, and call a friend to come over. Saqqiumijuq: watching the fog lift, letting it go, sliding forward into clear skies.
Happy solstice friends; I am not writing much these days but I am sure glad you are here.
PS: More photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/elizorliz/
The leaves are off the silver birch and I am now in my third decade. It’s the first week of October and both of these things surprise me, even though seasons and birthdays are two rare things one can predict. I’m dreaming of third decade goals including goats, pizza ovens, and the world’s largest sunflower patch. That said, I am pleased that my nature continues to be steady: my heart is still mostly called to biking mountain passes and months spent in tents. We celebrated my birthday in the best way I could imagine- a cabin full of friends, a sky full of stars, and litres on litres of wine bag. I don’t know if it was that (or the glow stick filled piñata), but the world feels open and shimmery right now; nesting and adventure-schemes are merging into what will soon be the winter cocoon.
Basically, its my favourite time of year. Welcome October where quiet is encouraged and new ideas burst from the gift of long runs in the chilly woods and a little bit of slow! Welcome crisp leaves, cozy fires, soup, and saturdays with the pottery wheel! Welcome apples and pears! Although, I am only tentatively welcoming their friends- the bears. The other night we were out trail running in the rain and bumped into this moonlit glowing apple tree along the edge of a field. The fruit was glistening and faron and I were blissfully chomping on a tiny orb when we heard the distinct harrumph of large mammal from the bush to the left. We backed away a little, but then saw a group of horses in the distance so brushed it off. Called by the fruit, I swung my arm up towards the tree to grab another apple and my headlamp hit straight into the eyes of a bear. Baby bear. In the tree. Mama cub? Probably in the bushes. Magical, but oh nelly. Fall, in all its messy glory, is here.
Why I am telling you this? While, apples and winter are about to take-over our world, there is a realm of other cozy deserts still to explore. Don’t give up on the stone-fruit yet! December isn’t here for months. I am making it my mission to savour fall and avoid winter bum out through denial of the darkening days.
Weeks ago I picked our plum trees bare in a flurry of over-tired energy; I was proud of myself for getting ‘er done but then quite sad that plum time was over just as it started. I might have exhibited a little prudence and picked bits off the trees at a time. Oh well. I thought I would have to wait another 11 months for more plums but then yesterday noticed a branch with some over-ripe leftovers peering over the neighbours yard. I almost died climbing up our moulding collapsing fence but I was desperate enough for this one last kick at the summer fruit can that I lunged repeatedly at the high branches across the air-space. I managed ten plums and only one leg scratch as collateral damage. The fence wanted mending anyway. And, ten plums is all one needs at a time. Really, any plums are enough for this cake (which also has the generosity to double as “healthy” breakfast the next day). And, if you must, softly cooked apples would work too. Hurrah for seasons and new beginnings. Clafouti anyone?
(Also, need to note; how ridiculous is this? http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/canada-sets-lowest-standard-at-world-conference-on-indigenous-peoples-1.2779590)
There have been moments where this summer felt sponsored by the heart of a teenage romance novel: river swims; ocean-side trail runs; friend reunions on the porch; mountain peaks nabbed during precious gasps of time off-call. Its been uncharacteristically warm and dry. The hills are so parched that occasionally the salt leaches from the coastal air and my nose fills with whiffs of ponderosa from my desert upbringing. The crunchy forest scent of old wood and dry needles sends me straight towards interior lakes, the whip of an early-morning fishing lure, and my papa cooking trout over a coleman stove. Last week I found myself running down a local hill as fast as I could so I could suck the smell of pine and dust of childhood memory deep inside my panting lungs. Beautiful, pure, summer.
We used the bbq so much that it took weeks to realize the new ceramic stove really sucks for anything except coffee making. And like any good narrative brought to you by heat, solo midwifery, a tender heart, and a pause to five years of constant (allbeit stimulating) moving of cities, there have been pangs of longing for alternate life choices that keep one on the road and ridiculous but unsurprising jealousy towards normal people that don’t have pagers that go off at 3:42am and could irrationally but metaphorically be everything you can’t.
Now it is September and baby eggplants exist in the world. Baby! Eggplants! I can’t think of a better reason to settle a bit than growing a delicious purple orb. Mind you, this success story is due solely to the nice cowichan weather and the fact our place came with a set of bugs that prefer to decimate cabbage over aubergines, but its nice when things work out in your favour. The new house is slowly unravelling its boxes: the cat knows now to come home at night and nuzzles hard until you feed him, there is pleasure at new routine, pottery classes, and the familiarity of my feet on known trail. I’ve caught 12 babies since moving here and have not slept through clinic once. Win. This evening I walked in the door and poured myself a mix of beer and grapefruit juice that I will drink with bare feet on the wooden patio. Then, I will attempt to put up the peaches that I have procrastinated from tidy preserves into mushy must-now-become-jam. Messy life. Found home.
Have yourself a raddler; it will be delicious.
1 can pale ale
1 can san pelligrino grapefruit
Mix the above together. Yumm.
I was there:
And now I am here:
In between there and now was a wedding, a somewhat crazy (and totally worth it) flight home from Nunavut via San Francisco, a giant move and house-paint, and then a mad dash to run a mountain race. and sneak in a summer garden before the work-baby storm rallies its inevitable head. Its been a crazy month! Adding to the insanity is learning that kebabs are not prounced “ke-bobs” but “ke-babs.” Is this true people? Its breaking my heart.
Its a bit strange to have peas sprouting in July, but the off kilter time warp of out-of-season vegetable gardening matches how ridiculous it is to go from the arctic to a bustling new start in the unending green of the Cowichan Valley. Except, this migration south is a good thing. This beginning comes with mature apple trees, plums, a cow-share, a badminton court, and a fresh outlook on love. So, I am trying not to complain that my head felt a little spin-full for a few weeks there and I was tempted to crawl my way back to the tundra where it was peaceful and quiet and I wasn’t a little scared to be embarking as a solo midwife. I also had a minor incident in Tofino where a surfboard and I lost connection and the board hurtled towards my tender head. Fat lip parties are terrible for eating! Hence, I disappeared from here for awhile. But then I remembered that while the south doesn’t have caribou or siksik marmots; it does have this: the power of the sea to woo one’s heart home.
(At least for now. Too bad you can’t cure itchy travel lusty feet with calcium magnesium supplements like you can jumpy-itchy-legs!)
To compensate for silence, here are some delicious summer kebabs AND the most amazing carrots you have ever had. Its a two-in-one! Deal! I am not beyond bribery to keep you entertained.
The kebabs are an easy summer stable, but adding smoked tofu and fresh herbs keeps them vegetarian, light, and perfect for long summer evenings where wine is passed many times across the backyard picnic table. The carrots will blow your mind. Za’atar, sea-salt, and a dash of pomegranate molasses make them heady and bright all at once, and roasting them in foil on the bbq provides the perfect connection between sweet and crunchy. Enjoy! Go seek summer! Get off that internet and find yourself a lake. At least that’s my plan to (finally) grant myself some peace.
Thanks for sticking around.
(recipe after the jump)