I felt so dizzy that I was moving around gingerly like a 90-year-old while my right ear seemed to be plugged up, almost like on an air plane. It was a weird feeling and I wondered if I was getting sick. Had swine flu found me? But how could it? An uneasy thought out in the bush, especially since Sam was away.
Our first line of defence when we or the dogs are not well is herbal and homoeopathic remedies. After treating myself with some tea and pellets, I did begin to feel a bit better and eventually even my ear unplugged again. In retrospect, it seems that it had been my body’s announcement of the major low-pressure system that brought us the non-stop rain over the weekend.
We’ve become very susceptible to weather changes, with low-pressure systems sucking every molecule of energy out of our bodies, but never before had the effect been to such an extent. Maybe it’s just getting older or maybe it’s the living out in the woods where nature rules just about all aspects of our lives.
What a novelty to be rained in for a few days. I gladly used the excuse of it being too wet to carry on with milling logs, an activity I always have to force myself into. But if we want a piece of lumber, that’s the only way to get it. The dogs treated the monsoon conditions the same way as minus 40: they needed to be forcibly dragged outside to relieve themselves and trailed after me with long and incredulous faces when I put on rain gear and gumboots and went for a walk. On the way back, they galloped ahead and impatiently crowded around the cabin door, shoving each other in the struggle to be the first one inside again, where much shaking and licking of wet limbs ensued. What would they do on the coast? And they’re not exactly Chihuahua-sized, delicate pooches.
While I wouldn’t want to live in a coastal climate and be inundated with rain like this on a regular basis, it’s been a cozy few days. Few places will make you feel as smug in bad weather as a wilderness cabin, where after a stroll through the dripping woods, rain pelting into your face, you can get into dry clothing again, light a fire, make a cup of hot chocolate and then just sit and listen to the rain drum on the roof. No place you have to go to or be at, other than what you choose.
Well, that’s not quite true of course: I did have to get water and a few sticks of firewood in, and then (horror of horrors) I had to go over and feed the chickens. This was a daunting task not because of the rain but because the silly things are scared to death of my rain gear. There are certain colours that they don’t like, usually really bright ones, and although my rain coat is a drab grey, it has reflective stripes on it which must be scaring the chickens. So my choice when entering the coop in bad weather is always to take off the rain gear and get wet or to struggle through a storm of hysterically flapping hens with the feed bucket. Usually, I prefer to get wet. This time, I always waited for a comparative lull in the torrents and went out in my dark blue, chicken-approved, fleece jacket.
With the chores out of the way, it’s been a pleasure to spend long, uninterrupted hours reading and writing. Usually, the dogs keep me busy letting them in and out when I sit inside (I’m that well-trained), so it’s been a real treat not to have to play butler every forty-five minutes. Out there in the rain, it seemed like an inordinate number of gulls were cruising by, maybe mistaking this for the coast. As the rain raged on, I lit the wood cook stove to bake bread, little sighs of contentment escaping me all the time.
It’s at times like this, when life is pared down to such basic things, that the luxury of living out in the bush really hits home for me: to have the time to listen to the rain and watch the drops slide down the window panes, to bake my bread and simultaneously heat the cabin. To be able to make the best of things and enjoy a northern monsoon when it happens.
Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who
lives at the headwaters of the
Yukon River south of Whitehorse.