A Good Canadian Never Whines.
One of my friends has a hand made piece of art, featuring this statement, and an oddly shaped maple leaf. One of her long passed great uncles created it, and it hangs prominently in her home. I’ve always loved it. It makes me want to meet that man – what did he believe about such things, and where did he first hear that idea? Is it true? Was it true?
I don’t know if it applies to Canadians anymore, especially my generation and under, as I’ve noticed quite a difference in the attitudes to health and illness between those generations and the one of my grandparents, who really didn’t whine, or even ask for any help with anything, even at the end of their lives. But I do think it applies in general, to Yellowknifers. One of the things I love about the folks in Yellowknife is the way they embrace everything that comes along. This is not a town of complainers, this is a town of people who make the best of everything. (If you did have a tendency to complain, you’d have such ample opportunity with the cold weather that you’d probably want to move in any case, so perhaps they are weeded out.) It’s not simply a case of stoicism, it’s a general tendency not to take anything too seriously and to look on the bright side.
My friends were flying back from down south early this month (from a ski trip we’d taken together), when their plane was unable to land, and after several hours or rerouting and false starts, they eventually returned to the airport in Edmonton, to overnight there. Of course the plane was mainly full of locals returning home, except for one woman from Calgary, who was of course befriended en route. She was apparently initially under the impression that everyone else on the plane knew each other (some truth to that – we’d actually stayed, for free, at an amazing home at the ski hill of a friend of a friend, and it turns out that man, the homeowner, was actually on the flight) and had all been away together. There were warm greetings at the airport lounge, and everyone was remarking on 1) how warm the weather had been, and 2) what good food they’d had to eat. At the end of that long day flying all over the country, they all made the best of things, and had a merry old time at the bar. No one grumbled.
What living in a place like this means is that one develops an ability to appreciate the small things. To rejoice in the little corners of life, love and wonder that are all around us. I have noted this ability in myself, both during my time in Yellowknife, and on another occasion when I lived in a small cabin in the northern wilderness. I am not sure what it is about these types of places – the simplicity, the solitude, the contemplative time – but it does seem naturally to lead to a quiet appreciation. I had an experience while out walking before Christmas that illustrates what I mean.
We had an interesting December around Houseboat Bay. The weather was much warmer and calmer than usual, resulting in soft fluffy snow and impressive rime, or hoarfrost, on everything. On everything. It was an entirely white world, punctuated only by rare spots of color.
But I did find some color, a rainbow of colors in fact. A rainbow of houseboats.
I realized I haven’t written much or posted many photos of the cool and fun houseboat community. These are just a few of them. There are many more and I intend to tell you about them.
In the meantime, I wish you the gentle peace and subtle satisfaction of discovering your own quiet rainbows this winter. I’d love to hear about them!