Filed Under: Essays
WHEN THE COLD WARMS YOU
It sounded so easy back in Texas. Get a passport, hop on a bus, then a plane. Manage a few layovers, land in Canada and hope I was lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis. I could have two checks on my bucket list of travels! Stepping out of the airport terminal, though, was an entirely different experience from what I had imagined in the warmth of Texas.
I instantly lost my breath. I had seen the temperature on the broadcast as I passed, but seeing the numbers was not the same as feeling them. My eyes watered and the cold struck me in the back of my throat where it caught, refusing to go any further. I struggled for a moment, and moved past it. I had never known this kind of cold.
The Erik Nielson International Airport was my last stop. It had taken me well over 24 hours to get here from my home in the Lone Star State. Texas is my heart, but like most Texans, it was too big to stay in one place. The North was as far from home as I had even gone, and the trip was less than easy. But here I was! And I was frozen.
Even as far north as I already was, I still had to drive a bit farther. Originally the plan had been that I was going to stay at a lodge that catered to people who were here to see the Northern Lights, but that was a bit pricey. I was lucky enough to be able to go stay with Lauren, a friend of a friend who was happy to welcome me into her home. She lived in a little house in Whitehorse, in the Yukon and she was on her way to get me — hopefully.
Lauren was only a few minutes late, and was nice enough to help me get my luggage out to the car. For someone I had never met before, she certainly was easy to talk to. I told her about my trip, we pointed out each others accents, and made some occasionally awkward small talk for the ride.
I knew who she was friends with, so I wasn’t expecting traditional decor when I got to her house. After all, I met her through Gina, whose home is covered in tie-dye, owls, and 1950’s era kitchen utensils. So I guess it was lucky that I met someone whose home was designed to make you feel warm from the outside in.
Lauren’s house was small, two bedrooms, one bathroom, and wood. Everywhere was wood. The hardwood floors were covered with thick rugs, the air smelled like cinnamon and, of course, there was a fire in the wood stove. I figured this was at least partially done because I was considered “company” but the result was pretty impressive!
Lauren’s husband, Steve, came out and it was basically like meeting a Canadian stereotype. He had on full hockey gear, a stick, and about 18 inches of full beard.
“Hello!” he boomed. Apparently his voice was all set to match his frame. I never did get a chance to ask how tall he was, but he towered over my 5’1”. “Sorry to be off so fast, but I’ve got a group of buddies waiting on me. Help yourself to the house!” Then he was gone, opening the door and slipping out with a blast of cold air.
Lauren, in her quieter way, grabbed one of my bags and hauled it up to the bedroom. I followed with my other bag. I could tell the rest of the house was beautiful, but the bedroom still took me a bit by surprise.
Another thick rug covered the floor, and the bed frame, dresser, and nightstand were all made from the same chestnut colored wood. The bed itself had a thick (faux) bearskin blanket spread over it and a small space heater buzzed away in the corner. After feeling a bit out of place and unsure, being surrounded by so much visually pleasing sights and sweet individuals started to make me feel right at home. It’s like Steve and Lauren knew how to make guests feel safe and happy, it was so natural to them. Just looking at this bedroom made me feel warm and welcome — it was so well decorated I felt like I was in a magazine spread. I kept thinking to myself how I could bring this warmth to the other locations I stay at during my travels. This was much better than any hotel.
GREEN LIGHT, BRIGHT STAR
It was the third night when we finally got some good predictions to see the Aurora. In honor of my being there, Lauren and Steve invited some friends for a party. It had only been 3 days, but these people had welcomed me into their home and their lives without a second thought. They had taken me ice skating for the first time in my life, demanded my presence outside in subzero temperatures, and given me some awesome advice about putting hand warmers in my boots. They had treated me like family, and in turn had become part of my tribe.
The party was a hit, with all of Steve’s hockey team showing up with beers, Lauren’s friends from work bringing food, and me entertaining everyone by saying “ya’ll”. When the Aurora came, it was amazing. I was pleased that I could cross this off my bucket list, but I realized that it was only the second best part of this trip. The people here had become the real highlight.
Maybe it had something to do with the magic of being somewhere cold, but the people seemed to be so much warmer than I was used to. The bearskin rugs, the rumbling fireplace, mugs of hot coca with a dash of whiskey and the roars of laughter in that tiny house made the Northern Lights seem cold and distant. They were beautiful and awe-inspiring, but I had no idea how much they would pale in comparison to the people I met. As bright as those lights can shine, I’m afraid they can never compare to the lights people can leave in your soul.
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.” Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. The Drifter Collective is an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Find her at on Twitter and Pinterest.