The explosion at the Babine Forest Products mill outside of Burns Lake last Friday evening has impacted this community in a devastating way. You can read the news articles for yourself, but I thought I would weigh in with my perspective here.
As a new member of this community, I haven’t been sure how I should feel about or respond to this tragic event. I don’t know anyone personally who worked at the mill and the explosion hasn’t changed my own personal life, so I almost feel like I am not allowed to be affected by it. Yet, I’ve had a hard time sleeping and thoughts of those whose lives have been turned upside down are never far from my mind.
My job at the college puts me in a unique position. Many of our clients have family members now without a job, and some have even lost relatives. As I talked with a grieving young woman yesterday, my heart broke for her. I watch these families, many who already don’t have enough money or support, and I don’t know what is going to happen to them. It’s my job to provide support, but all I can do right now is be someone to listen.
The community is still very much in shock, barely able to grasp what has happened, let alone comprehend the deep implications that the loss of the mill is going to have. When those implications start to become apparent, this community is going to need all sorts of help. If you feel like you want to do something, you can donate to the Lakes District Tragedy Relief Fund here.
Please keep my community in your prayers,
This morning I woke up to frozen pipes in my kitchen for the second time in two days. After I put the space heater to work defrosting the pipes (which took four hours), I layered up to brave the outdoors: two pairs of socks, leggings, thickest jeans, t-shirt, long-sleeve t-shirt, thick woolen sweater, wrist warmers, mittens, slightly embarrassing (but only in Vancouver) puff coat that comes to my knees, large scarf and toque. I admit, I was probably slightly overdressed, but I honestly have never felt -40 in my life, so I wanted to be prepared.
I went to start my car with my fingers crossed. Could the little blue Cobalt handle this weather? Even with my trusty block heater, I wasn’t so sure. But with only a little hesitation, the engine came to life.
After a stop at the local coffee shop to buy the coffee I couldn’t make without running water, my car didn’t fare quite so well, though. Despite my 10 minute warm-up earlier, the Cobalt decided it was just too much to ask to give me power steering. Thankfully, it came back later in the day and all has been good since.
I’m not sure exactly how to describe what -40 feels like. Your nose hairs freeze, the snow squeaks when you walk on it, touching metal with your bare hand burns, and I hear they did some sort of experiment at the college involving food-coloured water that froze in midair. All I know is that it has been a brand new experience for me, and I’m doing my darndest to at least on some level appreciate it.
Before I move into my introduction I want to state that while I do, in fact, have the ability to convince Linette that just about anything is a great idea, moving to Burns Lake was just as much her idea as it was mine. The first time she came to visit she was smitten with the romantic, small town life and professed that she was destined to move here at one point or another. Don’t you remember, Linette???
Me? I fell in love with a local back when we both lived in the city. I knew that he loved northern life and recalled thinking that if things got serious (and apparently they did) we would be moving to BL in the future. However, it wasn’t just his dream. As I recall from my 2nd grade studies, I have always loved pioneers. Plus, thanks to my Dad’s genes, I inherited a love for adventure and power outages, along with an infatuation for living without running water. Despite all my claims to adventure it should be noted that I grew up in the less than rural Seattle area…
In any case, while we definitely live with certain conveniences in Burns Lake, we do live in the middle of nowhere – 2 hours from the “northern capital” of Prince George, BC with a startling 80,000 northern folks – in an actual village of around 2,000 people. I have lived here for almost 2 years now and have learned to appreciate the long summer days and dark frigid winters, the necessity of a slower life, and most of all, the new hobbies that have emerged as a result of having time on your hands. In order to “make my dreams come true” I am fairly certain that I am establishing myself as some sort of modern pioneer by moving to the rural north, even though my husband assures me that even modern pioneers don’t use the internet. In any case, I love northern simple life and I hope that you will too.
A little more than a month ago, I packed my whole life into my car and drove the 12 hours from Vancouver north to the tiny village of Burns Lake. If the highway didn’t curve so abruptly forcing you to slow down on your way through, it would be one of those “blink and you miss it” sort of towns.
How did I – a 24-year-old lover of Vancouver – end up here? Well, the easy answer is that I moved for a job: it’s at the local college as a family support worker. The less easy answer involves my blogging partner, Jessica, who has a known talent for talking me into just about anything. It also involves a love for intentional living, for slowing down, for finding joy in the small things. And this beautiful little village is the perfect place to do that.
So the goal of this blog is to share with you our northern small town adventures, in whatever form they happen to take. Our cooking discoveries, our gardening attempts, our creative outlets, and our favourite wine choices (the latest is Hester Creek Cabernet Merlot, by the way).
Welcome to the adventure!