Every night for a week I got up at 2 AM to search for the Northern Lights but never saw them. People repeatedly told me that they’d seen them at 1:30 or 2:30 AM, when they were returning from the bars. On the day I was to leave Dawson, Veronica Verkley (director of the cat sledding film) called me at 3 AM, to tell me that the Northern Lights were out! I flew out of bed, pulled on my boots and parka, ran out the front door into a shimmering, dancing, green curtain of light, similar to the web photo above, running east-west right above the house! It was absolutely astounding. Before, I had been looking north, out my studio window. I did not imagine that they could be right above our house.
Layers of luminous, silver green veils, like seeing the beginning of a distant rainstorm, were dancing, changing and shifting ever so slowly and gracefully. Sometimes two or three tall, vertical layers would come together like rippling shower curtains made of tiny glowing green beads. Then they would gradually pull apart and reform into a single graceful neon green spiral. It is hard to describe and impossible to capture in photos (need a tripod for minute long exposures). Thank you Veronica!
Andreas and I took a long dive up Tanner Creek to King Solomon Dome and down along Quartz Creek. We saw two cars on a five hour drive. We were looking for a specific creek (Pup 19- all the small creeks are called Pup) and we backed up to check a sign, when Andreas heard beeping sounds. We walked into a jumbled mining area to find a large bulldozer moving great wads of earth and, hidden off to the side in the ice, snow and rushing water, a hunched man, panning for gold in Quartz Creek. Classic!
Andreas talked with him and got directions and at the end of the conversation the guy admitted this was where The Gold Rush, a television reality show, was being made. He must have thought that we were rabid fans, creating an excuse to see the show in progress (apparently it is very popular), but neither of us had heard of it before arriving in Dawson. On a five hour drive into the mountains, what are the chances we would end up at the site of a reality TV show?
The Road Closed sign, which we ignored, may have been put up by the TV people, since the road was mostly clear and well graded. ’Lucky Ladies’ may be the name of the episode they are working on.
What I forgot to pack: sunglasses, cream rinse, lots of moisturizer (Weleda Skin Food- good for this high desert climate), extra camera cards, two hats with a brim (for the bright sunshine) and lots of gifts.
I have had a fabulous month in Dawson City. It is a truly interesting place. I met friendly, talented, fascinating people and they made me feel very welcome. I love the energetic visionaries here, who are developing art and culture in the Yukon. Thank you Dan and Laurie Sokolowski, Tara Rudnickas, Karen Dubois and the Klondike Institute for Art and Culture staff for the gift of this residency and for making it possible for so many artists and filmmakers to work in this wonderful place. It was a great honor, I loved every moment and got lots of animation done on a new film. I look forward to returning to Dawson City with Paul and to seeing everyone again.
PS Yukon dress up! Jackie Olsen, the enthusiastic proprietress (her label) of Peabody’s Photo Parlour, which was open for one day during the film festival, added the furs, tilted my hat, fussed with all the props and snapped this photo.