Tourists. They came prepared for all the usual emergencies and had a solution for every eventuality. The one that made me wonder about these new strangers who trampled over beautiful blackberries, succulent cloudberries and nicely flavored blueberries and insisted on chewing on juniper berries instead for the distinct aftereffect, (I still don’t know how or what the big thing was about juniper), the tourist knew things that we didn’t. However, their knowledge boundary stopped the moment they stepped off the old amphibious aircraft that served the north in the early 1960s and 70s. Sometimes they left on the same flying machine, except in a stretcher and crying for a phone to reach either relatives or the insurance agent.
The tourist, who, we learned over the decades, likes to be pampered to some extreme or want to be left completely alone to fend for themselves against the wolves and cold in the winter and in summer months, applied so much DDT all over their bodies that I’m sure they had shares in Dupont. The ones who were loved by mosquitoes and black flies the most became relief for others, who felt a lot better knowing that their blood wasn’t as palatable as theirs, but still, you had to sympathize with the constant slapping and swearing and occasional anguished scream to some unknown god begging for mercy from the elements.
I told them to move their tent from the deep bushes to someplace close to the shore where the winds and breezes wafted away the clouds of merciless bloodsuckers, but they insisted that their camp site was favored in case the elements became so bad that shelter from the high winds were warranted. Gazing at the hazy skies of July, I advised them that their gods could not do them much up here in the far north, as they are probably inside and not getting bitten by
Tourist brings some smiles to my face. Remembering their names, however, brings the wrinkles out of my prominent forehead. I think that all tourists should have some identifiable and enduring name, although I did meet a John Smith once and I think he made batteries in some factory. This is the problem we have, what to do with all the niceties and mannerly protocol we are used to: have a tea and some bannock, no, the lard as an ingredient doesn’t have any traces of nuts, unless the unlucky porcine was raised on a peanut farm, no the tea is not from Labrador. Much remains for our first introductory meeting with the people of the south, hi I’m not putting on my feathers and no, you cannot shoot your gun at random into the sky when ever you feel like it, this is not the untamed west but more like the quiet solitude environment that one associates with complete isolation.
The questions that arise also made one wonder if the average tourist failed their history and geography grades. Many a pale man asked what had happened to all the horses and if we still used bows and arrows. The answer: the last horse in this area became extinct during the last ice age and the conquistadors didn’t come this far north to leave their horses behind, as had happened in the southern American states about 500 years ago. Also, bows and arrows are still used by kids who play cowboys and Indians, and most kids preferred to use the cap pistols. Many tourists insist on sleeping in a teepee for the first night, then when reality sets in early in the cold of the foggy morning and dew sets on anything that has any temperature difference, they cry for a warm cup of coffee. Coffee? What’s that, have some tepid tea and chew on the bannock like the rest of us.