6.21.2011 | Solstice


More than 600 miles this longest day, all north, all music. This is the distance when the boundaries between the passage and passenger blur. Is it the music that conjures the scenery? Am I driving, or am I imagining? Time suspended in the ever light. I could have gone on.

At eight, the daylight dulled to a twilight and lingered at that luminance. Along the Klondike highway, more remote than even the highway two days ago, I drove in that stasis for an hour or more without seeing another vehicle. It was like going nowhere. Time stopped, only the cars wheels and the tape rotating.

I don't understand this never sated passion for solitude. The good American in me asks, What is its utility? It has none, but life—the feeling of being alive in a particular way. I guess, the way I would be if I were bound to no one and no thing.

Like a moving meditation: no past, no future, just my mind on the present and intuition on the very next thing.


Dawson City is the city you think of when you think of the Yukon. It's a mud-platted town built on a sandbar on the Yukon river. Gold was found here. Jack London stayed here. The town survives on maintaining an anachronism, and I think it is a convincing one. Mud streets and boardwalks are a nice touch.

(I have been thinking about the time I read Call of the Wild, still so young, I dug out the maps and stared at this territory—the MacKenzie river, the Arctic Circle, the Yukon—and I wondered at the lust or desperation of the people who would make so long a muddy journey to hardship.)

The streets were giddy with light and people roamed in packs. Tourists I expect, but a grittier kind redolent of alcohol and chemicals. The people a patchwork, their clothes mismatched and incidental. Languages harsh on consonants wafted from faces that couldn't appear to make those sounds.


I went out at one in the morning to the abiding twilight and walked the length of the river in front of the town. No one was out on this solstice. Occasionally a man stumbled from a building and walked off silently down a mud street shined by the recent rain. The night light was a pale violet, undulating gently as clouds drifted overhead. A mist unfurled over the river and reclined over the old pioneer buildings. In the stillness, droplets weighed on the leaves and I could hear their glistening.