watson lake wolves to share thoughts at meeting

Dear Uma: "Wolf Review Committee meeting tonight at 7 p.m. Pie, ice cream and coffee served.

Dear Uma:

“Wolf Review Committee meeting tonight at 7 p.m. Pie, ice cream and coffee served. Seniors’ Centre. Everyone concerned about wolves in town come share your thoughts. Spread the word.”

I’d just finished reading Sedaris’ latest book Squirrel Seeking Chipmunk and though the book was a bit of a disappointment for a long-time Sedaris fan, I did love the idea of imagining what animals might think about human ideas and events, so…

Imagine the excitement of the wolves when the spreading word got to them; the town was concerned about them! There were residents who wanted to share their thoughts, which surely meant, at last, there was to be a dialogue between the two solitudes, an opportunity for both sides to express their wants and needs.

And there was pie and ice cream offered! That would be a treat indeed, but what really got them into their happy place was the promise of “seniors.” Everyone knows a wolf would rather have his food fresh, just as everyone knows the seniors in the herds are the easiest prey, being old and weak.

I got this message via email while I was out of town and felt cheated of a wonderful opportunity; I’ve not heard people “sharing thoughts” there, and who knows what the wolves would have said and done.

They would have been chagrined, however, to discover seniors in Watson Lake are not the easy pickings they’ve been led to expect by their experience with other herd animals.

The seniors are the most active and happening group in town, with their weekly lunches, their bingos and their parties on each and every occasion. We’re talking of real seniors here; the ones that are in their 70s and 80s, not the newly seniored 55 and ups.

One of the first events Cee took me to was a St. Patrick’s Day party at the seniors’ centre, which was housed in what used to be the hospital in Watson Lake and is shared by the daycare. I questioned her on our way as to why we were going to the golden oldies party when there was the promise of a livelier gathering in the local bar.

“Wait and see,” was all she would say, so that is what I did.

We walked into a scene of piano music, songs being sung, clover leaves and derby hats with wide green bands on every grey head, Irish stew, and a perfectly deadly green punch.

It was a really good time; so interesting and just plain fun that I enrolled Pete and me then and there, although we could only be ‘associate’ members. We enjoy going to a lunch once in awhile and I have even tried playing Bingo. The lunches are hearty and delicious, featuring comforting ‘mom’ foods, like macaroni and cheese and baked beans. The bingo games, however, are another story. It is not my game; I am too easily distracted, and the people are too engaging. They are able to chat, drink coffee, eat cookies and play a dozen cards all at the same time while I am able only to listen to their tales while my lone card gets daubed by helpful folks on either side of me.

The members are an interesting bunch; they are the real oldtimers, the ones who can tell the stories of the old days with authority, and often with a great sense of humour. They know what is going on in town and in the territory and they know all the players by their first names. They vote, and their vote is sought, as is evidenced by the generous funding for their centre and for whatever activities they wish to pursue.

The seniors’ residence, which is nearing completion, had input from the seniors from the beginning; it was, after all, being built to house them. They were vocal about what would make this building work for them and they are vocal about what happened instead: bathtubs that are difficult to get in and out of and an elevator that will not accommodate a stretcher. These are practical folks; they know they will sooner or later be needing a bath, and they also know sooner or later they will be needing a stretcher.

In a place where space is plentiful it puzzled me that the seniors housing would involve elevators and stairs; wouldn’t it make more sense for such a building to be all on one level? Ground-floor living is much easier on old legs, and would allow for a bit of garden for some outdoor exercise and pleasant times sitting in the sun.

Many of the old folks who attend events at the seniors’ hall still live independently, taking care of themselves and their homes as long as they are able. They are often avid gardeners, and active in other community groups. They can be counted on to donate baked goods for funerals, weddings, summer camp, and any fundraising event that takes place. Seniors have catered events outside their own club; their cooking and baking are much in demand.

Oddly, it is seniors who get called upon to fix things. One old fellow is still laying linoleum and setting tiles and another gets called upon to help with troublesome propane furnaces. These guys don’t say no; they have been known to go out on a cold winter night to help someone with frozen water or no heat.

I find it touching how the seniors here look after one another; they celebrate one another’s anniversaries and birthdays. They happily share news and photos of families and friends. They get together for almost every calendar holiday, and their Christmas dinner and party is terrific.

When someone is ill there is no shortage of visitors and no shortage of helping hands to take care of things at home.

A death is mourned by all, and the survivors comforted with sympathy and food.

It is an organization that does it all; all the things that would make one want to join them. They are bright and funny, they know how to have a good time and they are interested in and take care of their members.

However, even the Signpost Seniors have the same issue that many of the local clubs and organizations seem to have; a lack of new volunteers. The same people have been keeping things going for years, sometimes decades, and are often heard to voice the wish for the next generation to step up to the plate. Volunteering seems to be going the way of many community-building endeavours as the internet continues to take up our free time.

I wonder if there are any avatars who volunteer?

When I get home I will find out what this groundbreaking meeting has achieved. Maybe the wolves got a chance to share thoughts with concerned townspeople, and maybe they enjoyed their pie and ice cream, but I’ll bet they didn’t get any of our seniors.

Love,

Heather

Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read