The end of hermit time

It’s only fitting that my partner Sam has finished up his contract job outside and is on his way home when the moose and birds are also moving…

It’s only fitting that my partner Sam has finished up his contract job outside and is on his way home when the moose and birds are also moving about again in the warmer temperatures.

This time it meant only about a couple of months alone in the woods for me and I don’t expect to be all that bushed.

Yet I already start getting nervous and racking my brain for appropriate things to say to the pilot who flies him in, wanting to appear mentally sound and well-adjusted.

It’s always the same pilot and the same scene: I end up dumbstruck and seldom manage more than a mute handshake despite working out a casual-sounding script of small talk in advance.

There’s also the urge every time to make myself more presentable by trimming my unruly hair with the kitchen scissors, and it takes a lot of firmness and self-control to convince myself that the result will not be what I desire.

Partly our mirror is to blame, possessing carnival qualities of distorting the image, so that it’s impossible to tell how one actually looks.

The shift from being a lone bush person to interacting with live human beings and welcoming my partner back into my life again is strangely exhausting for the first couple of days.

Sure, I’ve talked with people on the phone and the radio, but switching from half-hour conversations with unseen friends a couple times a week to taking in all the body language, mood and physical presence of someone takes a bit of an adjustment.

Maybe in spending so much time with just animals around, the mind becomes so keyed up in trying to gather as much information as possible about the critters around that it is overwhelming when suddenly there’s a human being again that is so easy to understand.

One obvious result is always that I end up getting hoarse from talking so much, and after a few hours become very tired.

But for now there is the pressing question as to what groceries Sam should bring in.

Hmm, good question.

Belonging to that group of people to whom food is mainly fuel, I don’t particularly care much about what I eat.

It’s a bonus in the bush, where variety and fresh foods don’t feature large in the winter time, although it drives Sam (who belongs to the other group of people to whom food is pleasure) crazy.

His inquiries as to what we should have for dinner are usually met by my laconic response of: “Oh, I don’t know, just whatever is fine.”

Poor man — so I sit and try hard to think of what we could possibly want to eat over the next weeks.

My diet in the last couple of months consisted mostly of pasta, cereal and chocolate, with the result that those supplies are getting somewhat low.

But I have the feeling that Sam would not want to load up the plane with bags of these, to him, non-vital items.

Fresh veggies and fruit is all I can think of, conveniently leaving the varieties open because, how should I know what’s looking good in the grocery store in Whitehorse.

A new snow shovel would come in handy too, but because we never manage to get to town in the few weeks where this essential item can actually be found on the store shelves, I wonder if I should even bother adding it to the shopping list.

By now the stores are most likely busy putting out the golf clubs and canoes since summer is just over three months away.

What the heck, it’s worth a try.

If they don’t have snow shovels anymore, maybe Sam can find a garden watering can, another item apparently in stock only for a few precious days and never when we are in town. I add “winter boots on sale” and figure that should do it.

I e-mail the puny list to Sam and set about preparing for his arrival in a couple of days: cleaning up, getting in some extra water and firewood.

Maybe the unavailability of snow shovels in the midst of winter would be a good conversation topic to bring up with the pilot?

Or would it sound too weird?

Glancing into the mirror, my warped image does strike me of being in definite need of a haircut. I think I’ll get the scissors and just snip away a little tiny bit.

Maybe I am bushed.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

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