More of the unknown

So I spent New Year’s in my old stomping grounds. And I *loved* it! It was confusing—I was so socially unhappy there, but I had a career. I was respected, I had authority, I had value.

In Canada, I have a social life. I have a job. I’m still respected (so much sometimes that I don’t understand where it comes from!), but my life here isn’t revolving around a clearly defined career. I don’t think I mentioned it, but I’m doing legal research (etc) at a small personal injury firm. I LOVE IT. And sometimes, I’m doing legal work, too… sure, some days are brutal when I have painful, tedious tasks to fulfill, but a lot of the time I get to be like my old self: I read a lot, I analyse, I write it up, I present it to the lawyers, and they say, “wow.” Which is very affirming as I go through this flux, but… then I remember that it’s just that they’ve never been exposed to my kind of skill set at my kind of level… and I hate that that sounds WAY UP MYSELF, so let me qualify that by saying that I have about 5 more years’ of schooling than the average lawyer, and I spent a LOT of time refining the particular wow-inducing skill set—I don’t have the legal background or knowledge (my first day I was told, “I want you to write this brief”. I said, “absolutely. What’s a brief?”) 😀 , but you want research? You want it written up? Game, set and match.

Returning to my past life (and knowing I didn’t have to stay) was a bit magical. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with bear hugs and open arms. I slept in a cottage, surrounded by snow and huge trees. I stoked my own fire every night, (see exhibit A, at right—I MADE THAT!! 😀 And shortly after taking this shot I learned that there’s a fine line between “well-stoked fire” and “sweat lodge”) and restarted it, freezing, in the mornings. That part was like my childhood dreams come true: I have ALWAYS loved having space for just me.

This might sound crazy and pedagogical, but I learn best by modelling: show me how, and then I can rock it. That goes double for… LIFE. I’m FASCINATED by seeing how other people do things differently, and totally inspired (or disgusted, if I’m being honest!) by people’s habits. A positive exmaple: my old Norwegian roommate in Prince George. She embodied traits that I wanted to see in myself so much that I wish she had stayed longer, so I could have learned more from her. On the negative, well, who doesn’t know handfuls of cautionary tales? 😀

I mention this because it was SO COOL to see how a friend and her family live. Her kids are home schooled. They live free and wild, governed by curiosity, not rules and structure. When I met her, her then-8-year old daughter had taken an interest in Medieval times, and had built a smithy in the back of the house (up above there), where she was forging Medieval-style weapons (out of wood, in fairness…)—all for educational purposes. 😀 In PG, I bought my eggs from her, because her family have chickens, roosters and rabbits—for consumption purposes. At their house, I’ve had rabbit stew and coq au vin (made with the annoying coq who was driving all the hens mad, and thus met THE AXE) at their house. It’s more gourmet than it sounds, really, especially when her daughter (the former “blacksmith”, now 13 years old and a phenomenal mixologist SHE DOESN’T DRINK, THOUGH), tends the bar and produces artful concoctions.

All of this to say, it was a New Year’s like no other.

We walked the huskies in the clear cut nearby, nicknamed “Siberia” by her daughters for reasons you can see at right: a touch desolate? But in a GOOD way! And on our walk, we found a spine.

A moose spine.

Left behind by some hunters who, apparently, didn’t need it anymore.

You just don’t see that every day…

It also wasn’t the only animal carnage we found. On the side of the road there was a moose carcass, skinned and less the head and feet, wrapped in a tarp.

It got extensive news coverage, which will help you to understand when I say that the place I used to live was like being on the moon: THIS WAS BIG, FOLKS. I especially enjoyed the comments devolving into moose humour, i.e., “in the US they’d call this a moose-da-meaner”, and “did the RCMP put in a Moosing persons report?” (until chastised with, “you moosen’t joke about such things”…) 😀

But lest you think I’m just trying to scare and disgust you with images of northern life, I actually just wanted to say that New Year’s included more than appies and Absinthe. There was also an outstanding spread that made me celebrate family’s Austrian heritage: I’ve lived in Germany. I’ve visited Austria.

I had never before had schnitzel until this NYE.

And it was *awesome*. Even *awesomer* the next day, cold, for breakfast. Don’t judge me until you’ve tried it.

There was rotkohl and root vegetable puree, smashed potatoes and cucumber salad…

It was all new to me: from the vorspiel, walking in “Siberia”, to schnitzel for dinner, to the nachspiel: I have long known that Prince Georgians blow shit up to commemorate every holiday—and for once, instead of sitting in my house thinking I was being shot at, I was part of the action. And lo: my NYE in photos:

PS: know how everyone apologises for iPhone photos? ALL OF THESE WERE iPHONE. And I’m not sorry. 😀

I like pepper.

Yep: I lived in the north for 4 years, but… I never really LIVED the north. And out of that unknown came one of my best NYE’s ever.
Spill! What was your best NYE ever… and why?