As you can see by this photo from my hotel room, I am back in Yellowknife for work, after less than a week home in Vancouver. Yesterday evening here was surreal. First of all, it was still light at 8:15 at night. Not just light, but sunny. At this time of year the days lengthen by about 10 minutes per day.
As I walked to a restaurant for dinner, a man came running toward me from the legion hall. "Can you give me a ride to the airport?" he shouts. "I hafta get to the airport."
"No," I reply, "I, um, don't have a car."
"Bullshit, all you cops got cars."
"I'm not a cop."
"Yes you are, I can tell by your clothes. And I seen you in your cop car before."
I looked down at my clothes: A red Mountain Equipment Co-op jacket, boots, blue fleece hat, mittens,and jeans. Jeans with bright embroidery around one leg. (Yes, I still embroider my jeans. You can take the girl out of the '70s but.....)
I just shrugged and walked on as he continued to implore me for a ride to the airport in my cop car. Incredulous, a block later I pulled out the little camera I carry in my pocket, and pointed it at my foot. Does this look like the leg of RCMP-issued trousers to you?
I opened the door to the restaurant, having found it easily. My northern colleague, who was meeting me there, had explained "You can't miss Thornton's, it is in the same building as the bowling alley". I expected bowling alley ambiance. What I saw was this:
A maitre de whisked my jacket away, seated me, and gave me food and wine menus. This was no Bullock's Bistro.
But what happened next truly set the world spinning upside down. The waiter asked me for I.D. when I ordered a beer. He carded me??!!?? I looked for his white cane or seeing-eye-dog. None. At my age, this is not flattering, or funny, it's just plain wrong. Bizarre. The last time I got asked for I.D. was 16 years ago at a bar in Whistler. I had been wearing ski clothes, a hat, and sun glasses when I went in. A bouncer came up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and said "Miss, I need to see your I.D." I turned to him, took off my hat and sunglasses, and began fumbling in my pocket for my wallet. The tactless punk then looked at me and said "Never mind Ma'am, that's O.K."
The only explanation I could think of this time was this establishment must have a policy of checking every patron, no matter how decrepit, for I.D. Or the waiter was bucking for one helluva tip. But when my much younger colleague arrived a few minutes later, she ordered her wine without incident.
I commented to my dinner companion that the restaurant was not very busy. There were only two occupied tables, although she had told me earlier that Thornton's was very popular. "Restaurants around here are all slow right now," she replied. "It's the start of home barbecue season, a spring ritual." WTF? BARBECUE SEASON? Granted, the day had warmed up somewhat from the -24 chill I walked to work in that morning. But Barbecue season? This is what the start of the barbecue season looks like here:
After a delicious (and crazy expensive) dinner of shared tapas, I walked back to my hotel. A couple of the local Franken-Ravens, (bigger, cleverer creatures compared to their southern cousins) followed me, hoping I had saved some crumbs from dinner for them. I have been followed from a restaurant by ravens before up here.
It was a strange, enchanting evening. The north always surprises me. I love that.