Friday, April 03, 2009

Through the rabbit hole

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.


jmb said...

Blog fodder indeed.

It sounds like a wonderful place to visit but living there would be a bit of a chore I think. And expensive. And so cold!!!

I'm glad to see you are back to blogging again regularly. You previous post was indeed very emotional and I had no idea. When I was in Australia several Australian soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan so questions were being asked there too. What are any of us doing there, in the new Vietnam, where it seems nothing can be done to help?

Carver said...

That is so funny about the raven following you. I enjoyed your post filled with surprises. No your jeans do not look like regulation issue and that's too funny about being carded.

I had that happen once when I was in my mid 40s. I'm 51 now and it hasn't happened since I was about 45 but when it did I just laughed and said, um, I was born in the late 1950s do you seriously want to see my I.D. The young kid said, sorry but I need to see it. Totally cracked me up.

Jocelyn said...

Well, I guess you know how to dress now if you want to pass for 20!

I am loving these stories and a Die Hard Fan of the North, myself.

Me said...

That was a cute confrontation with that weirdo.

Voyager said...

jmb, Our presence in Afghanistan is especially troubling following the recent news tht the western-backed government has passed laws making it legal to rape one's wife, and illegal for a woman to leave her house without her husband's permission.

Carver, I am 51 too, which makes being carded a cruel joke. I gave that waiter a big tip; not because he asked me for I.D., but because he clearly needs to buy new glasses.

Jocelyn, The legal drinking age here is 19, not 21. Which makes the whole thing even more bizarre.

Orhan, I wonder if he ever got a ride to the airport?


Rositta said...

One thing I remember vividly about Yellowknife where the ravens. They used to pick up green garbage bags, fly high and drop them in the middle of the road to get at the contents. I swear they are on steroids they are so huge...ciao

LadyFi said...

Loved this post - Alaska seems as cold as northern Sweden, where they still have snow... Luckily, I am further south.

As for that man asking for a lift to the airport - too funny ... not to say, um, weird!

Voyager said...

Rositta, The Ravens up here are truly a different bird than the ones we get at our cabin in Southwestern BC. Maybe it's natural selection: only the biggest and the smartest can survive in this environment. I am always amused by their antics. In Pacific coast first nations folklore, they are often referred to as the Tricksters.

Lady Fi, While the climate here is very similar to Alaska, Alaska is further West than the Northwest Territories. I think Alaska is somewhat warmer due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean on its west side. In any case, they are both very chilly locales!


Jazz said...

Wow. I have a passion for corvids. Ravens and crows are amazing birds. Next time give them a bit of supper for me.

So when will you be invited to a frigid BBQ. Course I shouldn't be surprised, Mr. Jazz barbecue's in the dead of winter at 20 below. He's a maniac that way.

Mike Minzes said...

OMG. Snow!! I am so tired of snow!!! HA

I have a new blog. I hope you come by and visit.

Ian Lidster said...

What ab-fab adventures you have, dear Jane. Oh, and I'd card you too, just to be on the prudent side.

Love the jeans. That takes a body back, it does.

I am really enjoying your Northern Exposure and you almost make it sound inviting to a temperately inclined sod like me.