North is North is North

Driving the Dempster in June can mean cold and snow but Karen and I were fortunate to arrive a couple of weeks after spring had settled in. With the warming, the surface melt creates bogs and shallow lakes that call millions of migrating birds and helps sustain animal life. The 24-hour sunlight inspires brilliant wildflowers and tender moss across the tundra, marking this amazing ecological transformation with swaths of colour.

The black spruce –stunted by the short growing season, some limbs and heads twisted from longtime winds — lean with the influence of permafrost.


We felt as though on the yellow brick road, an endless journey to uncertain wildness. The only highway north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, the Dempster weaves through vast isolated landscapes and stretches itself beyond sightlines. Remote with quiet beauty and change, we passed from boreal forest to tundra to fields of stunted spruce twisted and bowing before mountains that mimic the woolly mammoths that once roamed here.


The North is wide open big. Creeks like lakes, ravens the size of dogs. Grasshoppers and geese are smaller yet appear dense — more substantial than their southern cousins. We are all vulnerable in this place of quick harsh change. Shall we take on the task of re-wilding ourselves?

8 thoughts on “North is North is North

  1. Walter ryan July 12, 2015 / 3:26 pm

    I am enjoying your journal so much. You are a very good writer. Keep on sharing😃.


  2. Jeanne Van Bronkhorst July 12, 2015 / 4:31 pm

    This is fantastic! Congratulations on reaching the Arctic Circle, and keep the stories coming. love, Jeanne


  3. faye July 12, 2015 / 6:08 pm

    Beautiful! I love the question about rewilding ourselves. xo


  4. kathrynmacd July 12, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    Loving reading your musings, Catherine. The North, the TRUE North, casts a spell over us that lasts forever. Your reference to becoming wild (we shd all embrace that urge) reminds me of one of my favourite quotations by American poet, Mary Oliver:
    “Tell me what it is you plan to do do with your one wild and precious life.” — (from The Summer Day)


  5. dave July 13, 2015 / 11:00 am

    Well done girls! A rare achievement to hither arctic circle. I bet your getting some serious reflection time on this journey. What strength in the landscape! Take care. Dave


  6. dave July 13, 2015 / 11:01 am

    *”hither”…should be “cross the”. Weird breakfast spell check.


  7. Clare July 16, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    The second picture could be from the group of seven. Stunning!

    Man you are north!


  8. Lori September 12, 2015 / 10:03 pm

    We are all vulnerable in this place of quick harsh change. Shall we take on the task of re-wilding ourselves?….Fantastic!


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