Big Tim and I thumbed to Dawson City, though not as quickly as we’d hoped. Hitchhiking in 1979 was far easier than it is today and, in Yukon, just about any car that was going our way stopped to pick us up. We worked in a mine in Elsa that summer and were headed to the annual Discovery Days festival. But because cars didn’t come along all that often, we waited by the side of the gravel road and sang songs. Big Tim—he was such a strapping guy that people actually called me Little Tim—had a stereo with those massive ‘70s-era speakers that took up a sizeable chunk of his cramped bunkhouse room and our summer soundtrack had Neil Young’s Comes a Time in heavy rotation. So there I was on a dusty, carless road doing a carefree jig and wailing, “In the field of opportunity/It’s plowin’ time again.”
Thirty-three years later, I am enjoying the opportunity of a lifetime. I am back in Dawson and will be staying for three months as the writer-in-residence at Berton House, the childhood home of Pierre Berton. The first five days have been a blast: I met plenty of people at a fundraising party in the legendary Pit my first night, lost money playing blackjack at Gertie’s my second, travelled the first 150 km of the Dempster Highway and walked up the frozen Yukon River. This evening I will visit Caveman Bill, who lives in a cave across the river. And this weekend, I will be blogging for the Dawson City International Short Film Festival. Much to my surprise, I’ve also managed to get a little writing in. It’s plowin’ time again.