My recent activities had been surprisingly similar to the courtship displays of other animals.
I had stuck a row of spruce branches into the lake ice to attract my mate from high up in the air, went on a cooking and baking spree to impress him with my amazing abilities as a provider and tried to make the cabin all cozy.
Although, in the bird world, it is usually the males who go to these lengths, I had reminded myself as I sampled rather much of the cake. Shouldn’t have baked it so far in advance of Sam’s return.
My efforts had indeed the desired effect. A bush plane swooped down on the staked out airstrip, spraying clouds of snow into the air as it landed. As I stood there on the lake, the dogs straining at the leashes that prevented them from getting the odd ear or tail docked by the twirling propeller, I realized that my mental preparations had not really worked – as usual.
Despite repeating the mantra “Sam is coming home, a plane will land” and trying to unbend my mind from its hermit state by imagining Sam’s arrival, Sam in the cabin, the actual event struck me dumb. A slightly alarmed smile plastered to my face, I felt rooted to the spot – tethered to it by the dogs for sure, who had by now thoroughly entangled me in their leads in their frenzied excitement.
Before I knew it, the plane disgorged a hugely smiling Sam who came struggling through the snow: “Hey Honey, I’m back!”. As he pulled me close, the dogs managed to tie up his legs too and giggling, we all half fell into the snow. It seemed unreal to me, like a dream, to suddenly have Sam back after his four-month absence. Only a moment ago, I had been a reclusive bush hermit – and in the next, I was reunited with my sweetheart. Just like that.
The pilot had shut down and now busied himself discreetly with unloading the plane. I unclipped the dogs and, after extracting ourselves from the spaghetti of leashes, we walked over to help getting Sam’s luggage and all the boxes of fresh food out.
The pilot turned around and talked to me: “Hi, how’s it going? Having a good winter?”
I nodded mutely, my brain trying to digest the onslaught of information from a fellow human being instead of a moose. Male, mid-40s, friendly, slightly curious, busy. Actually, pretty much the same impressions as I’d get from a moose.
I pressed out an actual word of greeting: “Hi.”
Sam started talking easily, handing me boxes from the bowels of the plane which I grabbed gratefully, not quite up to the social acrobatics of a conversation with two people in the flesh yet.
By the time we had unloaded, I felt giddy in this crowd of people. Questions began elbowing their way out of my mouth and I butted into the conversation. “Did you see any tracks from the air? Was it snowing in Whitehorse yesterday? What kind of fruit did you bring?”
There seemed to be a slight relief in the eyes of Sam and even the pilot that I began showing signs of normalcy, hadn’t quite gone off the rocker yet after all that time in the bush by myself. But maybe I was just imagining that.
Later, after the plane had left again and we had stowed away the wealth of goodies in the cabin, my mind reeled from the effort to keep up as Sam talked with dizzying ease about this topic and that, news from friends, gossip in town, skipping lightly from one thing to the next.
I contributed my modest morsels of information about animal traffic, the dogs and the merciless snowfalls of this winter. Out of consideration for Sam, who had completely missed out on the winter sport of shovelling, I had saved a good portion of the latest dump for him to clear off assorted tarps and roofs.
We sat and talked and ate, becoming reacquainted after all those months, and my mind drifted off to the almost magical powers that a row of spruce boughs out on a snowy lake possesses. Not only had love come from the sky, but also boxes and boxes of fresh and good food. Now I understand the cargo cults of the South Seas.
Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon
River south of Whitehorse.