Musings from MillerQuilts

Archive for August, 2001

July/August 2001

Wednesday, August 1st, 2001

What a joy to sit looking out my office window at the rhododendrons in bloom, and share with you a few of the miles I’ve covered over the past five months…a killer travel schedule to be sure, with the deadline of a one-woman show hanging over my head — but I survived!
View from My Window

The past five months have seen me in such scattered locations and varied climates as Wisconsin (in February!!!); Jekyll Island, Georgia; Fairbanks, Alaska; and even Yellowknife, Northwest Territories! What a privilege to see so much of the world around me!

The month of April was one I had eagerly anticipated for a long time — to Fairbanks and Yellowknife! Unfortunately in Fairbanks I came down with viral bronchitis (though I didn’t find out what it was ’til I got home and got to the doctor!) Though I did manage to get to a couple art galleries and book stores the day before I started teaching, my hosts, Monte and Lynn Slusher, were most accommodating in letting me spend much of my non-teaching time in bed from then on…

Yellowknife was particularly intriguing, as I had never been so close to the Arctic Circle before! What a different world: the Great Slave Lake was still frozen (all 11,000 square miles of it!), though the famous Ice Road had just been closed the week before I arrived.

The Prospector Bed and Breakfast in which I stayed was at the edge of that lake: I was in hopes of seeing sled dog teams practicing, but I was a little late for that. I did see the houseboats frozen into position — the inhabitants can actually walk or drive over the ice to their homes in the winter. When I was there, they had already begun dragging a canoe behind them whenever they crossed the ice to the main road, in case breakup came suddenly!!!!

Across the street from the Prospector is a historic café which is open only in the summer months. Oh, the stories these walls could tell, from Gold Rush days onward…

My workshop classroom was the entire third floor of the Air Tindi building. Air Tindi flies float planes (which ride on skis in the winter, pontoons and wheels in the summer) to outlying diamond mining camps and isolated areas with supplies and people.

What a thrill it was to watch the planes being loaded in the morning, and taking off right past the classroom windows: on a runway made by clearing the snow off the ice, and marked by ‘previously owned’ Christmas trees from the townspeople!

Air Tindi Headquarters, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories — gathering place for local quilt guild members!

Thanks to the gracious hospitality of the Yellowknife Quilters, there were many adventures to be had during my visit: attending a concert by The Gumboots, a well known local singing group; seeing sled dogs tied up at their stakes near their houses on the Indian reservation; getting a flavor of history of the area by visiting local museums and art galleries to see the art of the native peoples as well as current sculptors, carvers, and painters. Little did I know I’d take my first helicopter ride on this trip — what a gentle lift that was!!! There is no feeling like skimming over the treetops for miles and miles with no human being or building in sight as far as the eyes can see.

The adventure in Yellowknife began as I retrieved my luggage from the moving belt under the watchful eyes of this polar bear!!! This is the only Baggage Claim I consider to be a real treat: with paintings and sculpture in addition to the polar bears and diving sea lions!

Toward the end of the week I still hadn’t seen the Northern Lights, and was considering setting an alarm to get myself up to see them. But I thought I’d better get as much sleep as I could, as I was still getting over the viral bronchitis of a couple weeks before. Imagine my surprise when that very night I suddenly awoke from a deep sleep (for no apparent reason) just before midnight; I went to my window, and there they were! What a thrill…

The Land and People of the North have a mystique that continues to draw and fascinate me — I look forward to returning there some day…

Next Month: a unique and profound experience on Gabriola Island, British Columbia: a retreat called Healing Stitches: How Your Art Imitates Your Life