The Pancake Chronicles

The Pancake Chronicles: North

The Pancake Chronicles

Monday, December 04, 2006


Winter in the north is so beautiful. The crisp, the crunch, the simple joy of breathing - sounds and feelings are heightened. Trees are coated in hoarfrost that lasts for months. I feel awake in this stark beauty as though I've been sleepy everywhere else. When I lived south I think I became numb to the tall trees and flowers of every colour that covered my world. It's not that I didn't appreciate the beauty that surrounded me. It's that I felt I had some sort of ownership on the land I lived in. That the beauty was a given - a right to living that I have oceans and mountains and fair weather. And I had a right to complain when it wasn't fair. My surroundings owed me something. I was grateful but smug.

But in the North it's not about me. I must bend to it. If I don't I will pay. I must listen to what the land tells me and act accordingly. It tells me what to wear. It tells me how to travel or whether I will travel at all. It dictates how I sleep as I swing wildly from summer's bright long days to the steady dark of winter. The North doesn't care what I think of it and isn't hurt if I shake my fist at wind or curse darkness. When I sulk it pays me no regard. Believe me, I have sulked, pouted and cursed and it hasn't made a lick of difference to the North. But it's made me dislike being around myself with my strained chattering smile.

Enough! I want to be someone who finds beauty where I am instead of always craning my neck to see what's coming around the bend. It's a decision. I've given myself up to my surroundings and stopped kicking so much. In fact days and weeks go by when I don't kick at all. I've begun to look. Closely.

There is so much life here. It creaks and presses underneath the open spaces. The arctic earth laughs in moss and lichen. I am rewarded for all my patience when the pop of a wild cranberry smirks at me beneath brush and fireweed or when the green aurora comes to dance after I've stamped my feet in the snow for long cold minutes, staring at the sky. I feel success when I bolster up against the wind. I feel comraderie with those in my city who face the same things I do. I feel joy in shades of grey and white.

There is more, much more ... but it's enough for now.

Photo by Fran H.
Click here to see more of her beautiful photos of Yellowknife and the North.


Blogger villagegirl said...

I love this post Colleen! It's so poetic and lyrical! That picture is amazing. I have always been in awe of the North.

5 December 2006 at 07:50  
Blogger Koala Bear said...

You are such a good writer, Colleen....if you wrote a book, I'd buy it :) Love your description of living up here in the north.

5 December 2006 at 15:20  
Blogger Laurie said...

Your description felt just right and I completely agree. I read a book that told me if you ever doubt that god exists all you have to do is look around and there is proof of him everywhere. Living in the north makes me understand that even more.

5 December 2006 at 19:03  
Blogger Scrapnqueen said...

There is so much that is great about this post, I don't even know where to begin.

I have a book about creative writing (for song lyrics, but it uses the same exercises as creative writing) that talks about "kick-starting your inner writer. Otherwise, the lazybones will spend all day in bed, and you will miss out on so much you could have experienced together."

I don't know if your creative writing class has brought your inner writer into constant awakefulness, or whether it was a particularly perky moment for that gal, but you two make a great team.

5 December 2006 at 22:13  
Blogger Dickie Chick said...

Love this post Colleen! Loved reading it! You are so creative and poetic. I really could visualize the inner struggle you have with the North and Somewhere out here. :) Thanks for sharing the link to this photographers pictures too. They are amazing and it was awesome to see the beauty that surrounds you since I haven't had the chance to come and see you up there.

6 December 2006 at 06:34  
Blogger Colleen said...

Thank you, friendly friends. It was weird - when I wrote this I felt so much inside and I didn't have time to blurt it all out. I felt I could have gone on and on. It surprised me. I could feel that the North had changed parts of me that needed changing and thoughts I hadn't given voice to before were all vying for a part. Laurie and Monika and widdle bit north Talena - you guys know what it's all about and the love/hate thing that goes on. To Village and Dickie - you are welcome to visit us northies anytime. And even if you can't I'm glad I was able to help you see where I live if even just a little.

Thank you for your encouragement. It keeps me trying to say what I feel. You may yet regret it for I think I might have much more North in me to write about.

6 December 2006 at 11:32  
Blogger Rachel said...

Colleen...when are you going to write up your 'since highschool' post?! I am just dying to know what brought you up north...all the bits and pieces. I am nosy!
I think that is a great philosophy....enjoying where you are at instead of always waiting for the 'next' thing. I try hard to live it.

6 December 2006 at 17:02  
Blogger Colleen said...

Rachel! I completely forgot about that! Thank you for reminding me. Hmmm. I've decided just this moment I will write a list of things I need/want to blog about so that I won't forget. I don't feel like you're being nosy - I feel like you're interested and that feels good to me. :)

It's hard to live "it" but very rewarding, isn't it. Joy in the simple things. YAY!

6 December 2006 at 22:54  
Anonymous Betsy said...

Also your "love" story- waiting for that one too. :)

7 December 2006 at 07:22  
Blogger Sonya said...

I have been as far north as Ross River, Yukon Territory. It was in the month of August, so nice weather and such, but was too remote for me. It takes a special kind of person to live in the north and apparently you are in that elite group. :)

7 December 2006 at 07:53  
Blogger Colleen said...

Bets - ah yes, wuv twu wuv. That will be part of the story, I guarantee it.

Sonya - I really want to go to the Yukon and I may have a chance to this year. Did you like it? To me it must be very beautiful because of the mountains. Thanks, too for your words. 'Tis remote, yes. Am I special? Well, à la Shakespeare - some are born into the North ... and some have the North thrust upon them. The North was thrust upon me so ya do what ya gotta do (à la lyrics the world over). It's been hard. I guess that's why I'm starting to love it in this strange way. So much time and effort has gone into it.

7 December 2006 at 10:37  
Blogger Kori said...

I would love to see that great land of the North. It sounds beautiful! Love the picture on this post!!
I like Rach & Bets would love to hear the stories as well :)

7 December 2006 at 21:32  
Blogger Sonya said...

The Yukon is very beautiful with lots of mountains and trees. And more mountains and more trees, as far as the eye can see. And that's about all that's there! I tend to need some people to go with my mountains and trees. :)

8 December 2006 at 07:15  
Blogger Ace said...

This was a delightful read. Thanks :)

11 December 2006 at 15:12  

any questions?

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