May has come and gone in a blur of heat, fire and smoke. The inconvenience of forest fires seem to be handled quite well and the early summer has some folks puzzled and perplexed. Aren’t we supposed to be bound in snow and ice at this time of the year? Yep, global warming is rearing its ugly head now, and who’s to blame? Isolated as we are in the north we can still feel the effects of decade’s long discarded coffee cups and the antiquated refrigerator eating away at the ozone layer above, burning our brown skin and causing un-model-like fissures on our epidermis.
Why, do I ask, when we are at our prime (I’m barely there yet) do we seem to not care whether or not nature is our friend or enemy, that rain used to smell acrid and taste acidic, that ph balance is something we take for granted as being good for follicles, that the forests are laid bare for mining by clear-cutting and that we are looked at by the international world as being good for Kyoto? Why do we live in relative or even extreme comfort?
That, my dear readers, is something that we take for granted, that we live in Paradis Nord and not even the Almighty can say was created for man. Yes, technology has been absorbed by us and we’ve grown into it, from our baby monitors to the beeping line on the life support system. We have become part “borg” (excuse the Trekkie tongue) and fused to electricity and all that it means. One tourist, whom I welcomed to my home, felt a little overwhelmed by the portable DVD, the digital camera, the laptop, the recordable satellite system, the MP3s I ripped and burned, and even that I had a microwave. I apologized for the austere plain exterior of my home, noting that social housing units did not come with the dap-dap switch system and that by accident, may inadvertently cause the radio station, (which was delivered by satellite from Mistissini) to turn off and miss the all-important winning BINGO number. My tourist was amazed that we Cree have all the amenities and even more than he had.
I explained that in the north, once we are off the land, we live as others do in the rest of the country, except we don’t pay tax, education is free, holidays have been created in our name, airlines and the economies reflect our Cree culture and yes, it takes all of five minutes to leave this all behind for the land, which we have, too.
We left my home on a mechanical steed and dusty trails greeted us as the traffic from other nature lovers filled the air. We climbed the mountains a few miles away and gazed down to the community I now call home and we eavesdropped on the bustling and growing community, and commented how far sound can travel on a windless day. We could hear the sounds of children and their mothers talking and the constant drone of the ATV’s puttering around town. We turned and looked north and saw no sign of humanity. This… I explained, is what we all turn to when we get tired of our own “rat race” and where we escape to during evenings and weekends. Yes, just like the cottage folk of Montreal with retreats in the Laurentians, we commute back to the land whenever we can, to rid our lives of the pressures that small towns can create and get some peace and quiet.
Like tourists, we do enjoy the outdoors, but we live it too. We become part of the landscape and wildlife when on the land, and when back in town, we are the wildlife.