June 14th – “Finally, sleep!!”
The Yukon presents and provides so many great opportunities. What it did not allow me to do however, was to sleep. The land of the “midnight sun” was not conducive to a long-term visit from The Sandman. There is nothing like lying in bed at 2am wide awake while the sun streams through the cracks of the curtains tricking your mind into believing that you should be up and living/moving/dancing/running/jumping/etc!! Now that I am back in Barrie, I am appreciating again nighttime darkness.
For Yukoners though, the midnight sun is a gift. After a winter of near complete darkness, they revel in the sun that never sets! As one shopkeeper said to me, “surviving the winter is an act of willpower. You have to force yourself to get out of bed and venture out into a world of complete darkness, made only more difficult when it is -50 degrees Celsius outside.” I can’t imagine what that would be like, and I have no desire to experience it first-hand. So, despite my aversion to 2am sunlight, I have to remind myself of what it means to those who know 2pm darkness. It is a gift to be celebrated. And celebrate it, they do. On June 21st parties and festivals are held across the Yukon to herald the summer solstice, and its gift of unending light.
In the centre of Whitehorse, there is a monument to the Raven. According to ancient mythology, the Raven is the keeper of light. Every Fall it appears and snatches away the light. In spring it returns holding the light in its beak, restoring it again to the sky. The Raven is seen as neither foe nor friend, but as the one who is tasked with controlling the rhythm of life.
Even though I missed a few zzzzzzzzzz’s, I am grateful to have experienced the “sun that never sets” and the joy it brings to those who have known a darkness that few can understand.