The Bed Faced North

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I think back on some of the places I’ve lived, the memories sharpen when I recall which direction the bed faced.

In a tar-papered one-room house in Aklavik, NT the bed faced west to the Richardson Mountains which bordered the Mackenzie River Delta. The distinctive feature of that house was the sani-can, a chemical toilet set in a pimple of an add-on two feet from the bed. Often an ill wind blowing down the vent pipe nearly drove us out.

In Sachs Harbour, NT the bed also faced west toward Point Barrow, which was south of our latitude of 72+ degrees.The constant winds howled down over our little house toward the Beaufort Sea outside our front door. On cold winter mornings–October through June–the down sleeping bag we used for a comforter would be frozen to the wall.

When we built a cabin on Adams Lake in central B.C. one spring and summer, we couldn’t afford to put windows in right away. But, after a black bear stuck his head inside one of the window openings, we scrambled to get the house buttoned up. The dry hot summer brought the bears out of the mountains and down to the lake. Constantly alert for bear sightings, we’d work with one eye toward where our girls were playing in case of a black bear visit. That bed was in the cool basement facing north.

In the year and a half we spent working at KJNP in North Pole, AK the bed faced west upstairs in the log cabin that Dave built. One night I heard the unlocked front door open, and slow steps cross the downstairs. “Dave, Dave,” I hissed in a loud whisper. “There’s somebody in the house.” When I heard footsteps start up the stairs to our bedroom, I shook him and said more frantically, “Dave, Dave, he’s coming up the stairs.” Exhausted from building, he finally woke up and intercepted a glazed-eyed druggie half way up to our bedroom. We began locking the door.

A favorite bed faced north up the Alberni Inlet from Copper Island (Tzartus). Our wall tent located just off the water on Clifton Point had a front deck, a small woodstove, chairs, and a small kitchen area. When the tide was high we couldn’t reach the tent via the beach, so canoed home from the main camp area we were developing. In fine weather we’d tie back the flaps and lie in bed with a clear view of boat traffic and eagles and an occasional orca.

Living in civilization with our warm, carpeted bedrooms and large, comfortable beds hasn’t built as many memories. What was sometimes difficult in those early years, now is treasured and can be recalled whenever I remember which way the bed faced.

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011

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