There’s something about the North that gets into your bones, seeps right through your blood into your very being. A lot of people try to deny it — “That place is freezing cold! I hate it there.” — but I really do think it’s a place that calls you back, whether you know it or not.
I remember travelling up to Sudbury in my senior year of high school to check out Laurentian University. Sudbury is really not that far north (now when we travel through there I’m either thinking We’re almost to Ottawa! or Ugh, so many more kilometres left in damned Ontario) but I don’t think I’ll ever forget stepping out of my guidance counselor’s van, taking a deep breath of clean air, craning my head up to look at the trees and just feeling right.
Anyway. Today is my third anniversary of taking a big breath and walking into my office, and my new life, after spending a few days on the road getting well-acquainted with Highway 17 (which I would normally refer to as my nemesis, but I think Highway 11 has moved into that role).
There’s this legend in town that I learned about after I had already been here for a year or two. They say if you drink the water from Pelican Lake (one of the big lakes right in town) you’re destined to come back here. What people who tell that legend to newbies don’t often mention is that the town drinking water comes from Pelican — the municipal website proclaims it so.
So basically, the first time you brush your teeth, you’re not getting away easy.
I hear a lot of stories, too, about people who were supposed to come for a year, two years, five years. I mainly hear them from elderly women and men who have since watched two or three more generations of their family grow up, drinking that water.
I’m not sure if we’ll stay here forever. Our long-term plan kind of fades into oblivion after the last tangible goal we have comes to fruition. When I try to picture our future kids running around and playing, it’s in a hazy blur that could be anywhere.
I’m sure they’ll have ingested some lake water before that point, though. If the North has made it into my blood it’s bound to be in theirs, and they aren’t even in existence yet.
I wonder if I’ll eventually stop counting anniversaries, or if I’ll keep marking this day until we end up somewhere else where I can start worrying about anniversaries all over again.
Anyway — I am here, still here, still happy. It’s a good day.