Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Elizabeth Hay Blog Tour Stop

I am so excited to announce that over the next few weeks, Pickle Me This will be a stop on Elizabeth Hay's upcoming blogging tour of the Canadian North. Her award-winning Late Nights on Air was one of my favourite books of 2007 (and read my review here). Other stops have included The Book Mine Set, The Library Ladder and Metro Mama. Now over to our guest blogger Elizabeth Hay...

May 8, Dawson City, Yukon: Last night we walked back to the hotel from the bar at Bombay Peggy’s and though it was close to midnight, it could have seven in the evening. The light is uncanny. The sun goes below the horizon, but not far below, turning the depths of the night into radiant dusk.

To get here we drove the Klondike Highway north from Whitehorse. Even in the aftermath of massive forest fires marked with white signs – forest fire of 1998, forest fire of 1953 – the sky and the contours of the land made for unbroken beauty. Night before last I did a reading in the village of Mayo, attracting a handful of interesting folk, and afterwards we walked along the dike next to the half-melted Stewart River. May is a good month to be doing readings from a radio novel since the air is full of sound – break-up, birdsong. They say the best place to see wildlife is on the edges between habitats, and it seems to me that’s the best place to see nervous life of all kinds – on the edges. In the case of Late Nights on Air, that would be the edge between listening and speaking.

We rolled down the hill to the bathroom in our sloping motel room in Mayo. At least one of the rooms in that motel had something I coveted, an ElectroMaid from the 1950s, a self- contained unit of three burners and tiny sink with fridge below. Perfect for anyone with a love of the past and gypsy-like inclinations.

In Dawson City I made something of a faux pas, not taking off my shoes when I entered the library. Dawson’s streets are dirt, in keeping with its true-to-the-past historic self, and everyone protects the library’s indoor carpets. Again, people were receptive, informal, generally relaxed. Yukoners strike me as fiercely proud of the Yukon and eternally glad to find themselves here. Lulu Keating, the filmmaker, has made her home in Dawson. Over drinks in Bombay Peggy’s (former brothel and now an elegant hotel with lurid overtones), she and others at the table seemed altogether pleased with their lives in this isolated, culturally rich, dreamboat of a place. Charlotte Gray, a friend from Ottawa, is the current writer-in- residence at Berton House and she has slipped into life here with graceful ease.

We’ll take the Klondike Highway south to Carmacks for another library reading tonight. Tomorrow, Teslin. Then on Friday I’ll leave the Yukon and fly to my old stomping grounds of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories – setting for Late Nights on Air.

Previous stops: here and here.