Dawson City, Yukon Friday, March 31, 2000

On a balmy spring morning the mushers and dogs of the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Race headed off to Eagle. Photo by Dan Davidson

Feature Stories

Winter's Last Glorious Race Sets a New Winner's Record
Running the Percy Creates a Bond
Taking the Measure of the Nation
Uffish Thoughts: A Few Words with the Governor General
Sandra's Song
Eight Clicks from Carcross: News from the Cache

Welcome to the March 31st on-line edition of the Klondike Sun. This is the abridged version of our March 28th hard copy edition. Getting a subscription (see the home page) is the only way you'll ever see it all. We're late again, due to the fact that someone called an election and the editor had four major profiles to do over the weekend.

Winter's Last Glorious Race Sets a New Winner's Record

by Dan Davidson

Brian MacDougall receives the antler trophy from Joann and Dick Van Nostrand. Their Downtown Hotel is a major sponsor of the race. Photo by Dan Davidson

Brian MacDougall may have his name on the Percy DeWolfe award six times now, but he says he wasn't sure about his seventh win until pretty late in the race.

"Oh, about 5 minutes before I came in," he said, just after the Saturday night banquet.

"I was packing a dog, and I'd seen Gord. At one point he was pulling up to me, so right up till the end I was worried about him catching me."

That's not how Gord Wood recalled it, earlier in the evening.

"Brian's seventh victory is a phenomenal performance over the years. He's going to be even tougher to beat next year.

These guys have been racing each other a long time and Wood has come in third or fourth on several occasions. They have a certain camaraderie on the trail.

"When we're going up to Eagle," Wood said, "we're good friends and y'know, I pass him an go 'Hi, Brian, how's she goin'?' and we talk a little bit. I snack and he goes on by and says, 'Gee thanks, Gord'.

"At 6 o'clock yesterday (Friday morning) we knew we were in a race. We were coming back with a 3/4 moon, no headlights, everything's quiet - no wind, even, which is a real change.

"I see Brian coming up behind me with that silent Ferrari. There's no 'Thanks Gord for the trail' or anything. There's just 'Snk, snk, snk' (he made a clicking sound mushers use to encourage dogs) and then whoossh!"

"I knew I was in trouble then. But I didn't give up. I kept chasing him."

The result was a tighter race than some years, with the two men arriving in Dawson less that 15 minutes apart. Brian MacDougall's winning time was 21:23, a bit slower than last year's first place (Ed Hopkins at 20:51). Gord Wood was just 12 minutes behind that, and just a little bit slower than his own third place time of 22:11 in 1999. Both men shaved time off of MacDougall's 1999 second place run of 21:50, while Ed Hopkins, who was last year's winner, rolled in third with a time of 22:54.

The mushers agreed that the trail was a good one this year.

MacDougall confirmed that the trail conditions on that very warm Thursday morning were less than ideal. It was right around 0?C at the starting line and the snow was sticky. The trail to Eagle, he says, was much like that.

"It did (slow us) on the way down. It was hot and the trail was real punchy and it did slow us going down there. The trail to Fortymile was pretty good, but it got punchy going towards Eagle.

"There was a little overflow out there, but nothing serious. I got wet to the ankles at one spot."

"It's unbelievable, though. It dropped probably down to 25 below on the return trip. The trail hardened up and it was just like a luge run."

The return times were a lot faster, in his opinion. He's betting that officials will find some broken records when they crunch the numbers later on.

Overall he rates the race this year as having "a pretty good trail ... one of the best I've seen."

MacDougall says he will be back next year.

"It's sort of a tradition. I've been coming here so many years now, I don;t know what else to do."

He was a late registrant this year and people weren't sure if he was coming. He said he'd always intended to enter, but just got busy and didn't.

"I'd been down to Prince Albert the week before, doing a 300 mile race down there, and I wasn't quite sure I was going to have a dog team left to run this one with.

"I never planned not to come; I'm just a little lax on the registration." Not for next year, though. At this interview concluded he headed right back into the Oddfellows banquet hall to sign up for next year's race. With a total purse of $25,000 first place will look even more attractive in 2001.


Running the Percy Creates a Bond

by Dan Davidson

Postmaster Lambert Curzon is assisted by the RCMP as he passes the mail sack to Kenny Tetlichi. Photo by Dan Davidson

One of things most commonly said about the Percy DeWolfe Race is that it's an honour just to finish it. Those who do feel that they have a bond. That explains the family atmosphere at the banquet each year.

The spacious ballroom on the second floor of the Oddfellows Hall was the scene for the 24th annual Percy DeWolfe Banquet, catered by the lead sponsor, the Downtown Hotel.

Master of ceremonies Al Pope welcomed the mushers and their guests and slogged his way through the evening's program ("I told you I was going to be bad at this," he kept reminding the room.) much the same way he has run some races, according to his own stories, but everything did get done in the end.

The Percy has a big enough pot to enable it to pay off the first ten finishers, although the only big money is in the top three places.

This year Brian MacDougall (see accompanying interview) reclaimed his first place position, after last year's second spot, receiving $4000 and his name on the antler trophy for his 21:23 finish.

Gord Wood, who came third last year, moved up to second and took home $2500.

Last year's winner, Ed Hopkins, received a third place trophy and $1500.

The keeper trophies for all three places are wooden plaques with a picture of Percy DeWolfe and one of his many teams affixed to it. Hopkins joked that he now had one for all three places and that at least MacDougall couldn't lay claim to that distinction.

Hopkins actually took third by default, since Sebastian Schnuelle, who was a few minutes faster, was disqualified on a technicality.

Hopkins used his speech to encourage Schnuelle, as well as to praise the members of the Canadian Rangers who worked on the trail, and pay honour to the people at the Eagle checkpoint at the middle of the race, most of whom never get to the banquet.

Fourth place and $700 went to Don Kaduce of Fairbanks.

Fifth and $400, as well as the Top Rookie prize, went to Michelle Phillips of Tagish who thanked her mother for being her "baby handler".

Sixth place and $350 went to Fairbanks musher Andy Elsberg, along with the Humane Society's Dogcare Award, presented by Karen McWilliam.

"The Humane Society is proud of our relationship with the Percy DeWolfe Race," McWilliam said. "We sponsor it, we encourage it, we endorse it. For the past five years there has been an animal care award, selected by the vet team. It's always a difficult choice. One of the reasons the Humane Society does endorse the Percy DeWolfe race is that the dogs are so well taken care of, which makes it such a wonderful thing to be a part of."

In seventh place, with a prize of $300, was local musher Peter Ledwidge, who is working his way to the top of the list after his third Percy.

In eighth place, taking $250, was veteran musher Joe May. In announcing his time, Pope referred to it as the award for the dumbest musher in the race.

"Joe sat down at Fortymile and had a couple of beers and watched the teams go by, watched fifth place and sixth place...."

May, who has run the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest (and referred to them as "history" when asked to talk about the experience) got up to say that he'd really just run the race this year in order to be able to stop at Sebastian Jones' cabin for some homemade beer, and now he was going to have to run it again because Jones had been fresh out this year.

Ninth place and $200 went to mail carrier Kenny Tetlichi, also of Old Crow.

Tenth spot and $150 went to Guylaine Levasseur, who also won a "Passengers Award" for being the first expectant mother to run the race, and the Sportsmanship Award.

In presenting the Red Lantern Award to Kyla Boivin, emcee Al Pope noted that Kyla, who had won this award last year, had said she didn't want another one of these.

"A Red Lantern in the Percy DeWolfe is something to be proud of," Pope said.

Kyla finished in 42:23, which John Borg noted was a faster time than this race has been won in during some years. The late Bruce Johnson, who won here six times, did so with a slower time than Kyla's on at least one occasion.

Besides, the 17 year old musher had at least finished the race, and two of the adults hadn't managed that.

However, she had to put up with lantern jokes for the rest of the night, and it didn't help when she won a candle during one of the door prize draws.


Taking the Measure of the Nation

by Dan Davidson

Governor General Clarkson in the parka she bought from a short-lived NWT co-op project 25 years ago. The wolf fur trim was replaced four years ago. Photo by Dan Davidson

While about twenty-five percent of the duties of the office of Governor General are pre-defined, her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson still feels that leaves her plenty of room to carve out the role as she sees fit.

And what she sees herself doing is linking up the country while helping to define who we are as a people.

"I very much see it as a necessary thing to go about the country - and not just to go for a day or two days and ... one activity. We've been here nearly a week now and I think that that's an important kind of thing.

"I think that the Governor General should be representing Canadians to other Canadians. The reason for coming north .... is to say that the North is part of us and the North is a very important part of Canada. By my coming here as Governor General, I am emphasizing that importance. In fact, everywhere I go, all over the country, that's what I want to emphasize.

"I just happen to live in Ottawa because that's the administrative center and where, historically, the Governor General has resided." There is also a residence in Quebec City, where Clarkson also spends a good deal of time.

She sees her role as both bringing people in and reaching out to them. As part of that role she's been spending a week in a different province or territory each month since she took office six months ago. The Yukon is her sixth destination since taking office. Next month she will be in Nunavut and NWT will see her in August.

"It's important to me that we move about the country and see people where they live. In our awards ceremonies we bring people from their places to celebrate them at Rideau Hall in a special way with a big dinner and an awards ceremony that has some pomp and ceremony about it. But I think it's very important for us to go out and see how they really live in their places and to talk to them.

"That immediacy of conversation ... is very important, because, out of it will come the concerns that are on Canadians' minds.

"As we've gone about the country, even in the first five and a half months, it's become very clear to us that people do want to share a common vision and purpose in this country. There is a genuine feeling that we have a different kind of country here and that we should maintain it.

"Things that ... disturb that feeling of equilibrium, like people being very poor or homeless, are things that most Canadians find unacceptable. We have started to examine that question to try and figure out how we can help push that along ... and help rid the country of that, if possible.

Her Excellency is not a starry eyed romantic about this. The former journalist and diplomat sees that there will always be a need for assistance for those who are somewhat fragile in their circumstances, but sees no reason why a largely middle class nation like Canada cannot help such folk.

One of her priorities in travelling the country has been to visit as many shelters and homes for abused people as possible. During her stay in the Yukon she visited Kaushee's Place in Whitehorse and assisted in opening a community safe home, M'degi House, in Ross River.

"I was very impressed with (M'degi House). That's right in that community. One of the things about having shelters in larger communities is that they are also for people coming in from other canters, and that's a problem in itself because women don't want to leave behind the family situation ... and everything else that's familiar, even if the situation with their relationship is terrible. I think M'degi House is a really good first step in that community."

Coming to Dawson and spending two nights here was a treat for Clarkson, who cites I Married the Klondike, by Laura Beatrice Berton, as a favorite book.

"I had an image of it because of Pierre Berton's books and his mother's. I had always wanted to come here, it just never happened that way. It's a quite remarkable place.

"It's very authentic. It doesn't have the feeling that it's just a Potemkin Village or an Upper Canada Village. It has a real feeling of what it was about. Seeing it in the winter, without tourists, emphasizes that."

Ever the canny media person, Clarkson sees her presence at events such as the Arctic Winter Games, or her personal participation in handing out awards to Rangers all over the North, as being something which lends a certain visibility to the places she visits. It's part of that introducing Canada to all Canadians that she sees as being her particular task.

"It's another way of people knowing that the place exists. That's very useful. My feeling about Canada often has been that we don't make ourselves visible to each other, that we have an invisibility to ourselves. That's not a good thing. If you don't see yourself, the you can't say, 'This is who I am. This is what I stand for, and nobody's going to budge me from this particular set of values.' I think we have the values, but we often don't state them.

"The time has come now when we have to state ... that we are a society which really doesn't expect everybody to be a winner, doesn't expect everybody to do well monetarily and pay for everything that they do. Here in the Yukon you do understand that if you're going to live in a climate like this you have to have help.

She has found herself to be well received on this trip. She describes the local reaction, everywhere she has been - Whitehorse, Ross River, Mayo, Old Crow and Dawson - as "heartfelt".

"Everybody comes out, or virtually everybody. You have a very intense experience for those hours that you're there."

Of former Governor Generals, she believes that Roland Michener and Vincent Massey spent some time in the North, as did Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan), but it's been 30 years since the region got that kind of attention, and she believes herself to be the first Governor General ever to visit Ross River.

"I intend to travel a lot in the North. I like it a lot. I felt that it was important to come to (the Yukon) in the winter because winter is what we are. The summer is very short and it's very nice to come, but everybody comes then."

That she has been north in the past is attested to by her attire. Strolling the dyke or striding the boardwalks she looked perfectly at ease in a wolf fur trimmed felt parka that she bought in the NWT 25 years ago.


Uffish Thoughts: A Few Words with the Governor General

by Dan Davidson

When the message arrived at the office of the Klondike Sun it left me momentarily speechless.

Did I want an interview with the Governor General?

Did I??? Well, gee, let me think ... YES!

It had never occurred to me that such a thing would be possible. I have covered two previous visits by the Governor General during my 15 years here. On neither of them was such an eventuality even suggested. His Excellency made public appearances, generally surrounded and buffered by security and aides, made a speech, attended a tea, or turned over some sod to plant a row of trees.

The cameras whirred and clicked, the television people ignored everyone else in their quest for the extreme closeup, and that was about the extent of it.

It seemed that the rules of engagement for this Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, were to be somewhat different. Mind you, the absence of national press for this trip was probably in my favour.

I was impressed and daunted by the notion of an interview. After all, this was the person whose journalism I had always admired on the Fifth Estate, who had gone on to bring performance art closer to the audience on her "Adrienne Clarkson Presents..." television show after as stint as a diplomat in France.

She has breakfast conversations with her husband, John Ralston Saul, whose last four books have all done very well, in spite of the fact that he is writing about ideas and philosophies that aren't exactly part of everyday discourse.

The Double Exposure team had long since skewered this culturally aware lady with that devastating tag line, "Hello. I'm Adrienne Clarkson ... and you're not..." As I approached the thought of conducting an interview, even for so short a time as 15 minutes, it was with a clear sense that I stood to make a complete idiot of myself.

I took comfort in the fact that I have managed to pull this off with people are diverse as Pierre Berton and Susan Musgrave, and set down a couple of starting points. In her hotel room we sat in matching chairs. I turned on my tape recorder and her press secretary turned on his. (I could see that I would have to transcribe very carefully later on.) We chatted. It was a pleasure. The results will be (or have been) elsewhere in this paper, but there are a few other things I'd like to mention.

What does a Governor General do when she's not being official? Well, this one liked to go for walks on our dyke late enough at night to see the Northern Lights and shooting stars. She even had someone on Aurora watch during her second night here, ready to rouse her if anything remarkably different from the first night's showing turned up.

The watcher woke her up about 3 a.m. with the news that the lights were active once again. But there were no colours, so she decided to give them a miss.

"Just the idea of putting on my longjohns and my sweater," she began, and then paused, " - if my things had all been there and I could have just jumped into them, I would have." But Tuesday had been a long day, so she didn't.

This Governor General liked to shop. This is not a vice in Dawson. We encourage people to go away with artwork, moccasins and all manner other goodies. After all, someone who arrives in a well cared for 25 year old parka can hardly be called a spendthrift.

This Governor General likes people. At the "no media" luncheon on Wednesday - about 10 minutes after our interview - she charmed a room full of folks and showed herself willing to talk and to listen.

A part of me was digesting our interview by that time and could appreciate that her actions were exactly in line with what we had been discussing. Her idea of the role of her office goes beyond simply showing the flag and making people aware of the dim, distant presence of the Queen. She is a communicator, and she wants to be a medium through which the various parts of the country learn more about each other. She wants to have discussions, not just distribute awards.

This Governor General is quite good at what she wants to do. She wants to learn things and get a sense of the country. When I titled the interview "Taking the Measure of the Nation" I felt it was a good description of what she's going to be all about.

She has already endured a bit of criticism because of who she is, because of her background, because of the last minute tidying up of her marital status. None of that seems to worry her in the least. I expect she will be making headlines before too long, talking about some of the causes dear to her heart, some of the ways in which she feels Canada is a distinct place. These comments will be somewhat to the left of the prevailing winds of discussion at the moment, so it may be that they will not receive much media attention. Watch for them, though. I think they will be worth hearing.


Sandra's Song

by Palma Berger

Sandy Pilon performs at a Dawson City Music Festival coffee house last fall. Photo by Dan Davidson

Lunenberg county has many a claim to fame. One of the saddest is that it was the location of the infamous Ideal Maternity Home. To this home came unwed mothers who, in the 1940s, had no place to go to have their babies. It was not a nice place.

Sandra Pilon' birth mother found herself in this condition and in this place. Life there was very hard for those who did not have the funding to pay for their stay, from having to do the hand-scrubbing of floors to the heavy laundry. Sandra 's uncle had paid for his sister 's stay there. After 72 hour long labour for which the only comfort was aspirin, Sandra was born.

Sandra 's mother did not want to keep her child, so she departed as soon as she could and left the child there. This is where the Maternity Home made their money. For a fee many children were adopted out to families. Hundreds ended up in the States, says Sandra.

Fortunately for Sandra, friends of the Youngs, who ran the Home dropped by for a visit soon after her birth. Although they had five children of their own they took this newborn. Sandra says they paid $1.00 for her. She thinks this is because the place had so many babies born there at that time.

The infamy of the place came from the burial of the many babies who did not survive their birth there. These, the Youngs placed in butterboxes and unceremoniously buried in the grounds. But the name 'Butterbox Babies' stayed with the survivors.

Sandra is a 'butterbox baby'. When she was fourteen she came across papers that showed she was adopted. When she was older she contacted Parent Finders who suggested she place a personal ad in the Halifax papers. This she did. Eventually it resulted in a phone call from her mother's cousin, who asked why she wanted to know?

After some time Sandra was able to contact her mother. The reunion was both good and bad says Sandra. But Sandra now knew who she was. She is now living in Dawson. One night she had some friends over and mentioned 'Butterbox Babies'. This person did not know about them, so Sandra explained.

The next morning she made her cup of coffee, sat down and the feelings of those many years surfaced. She poured them out into a song which she has played at various functions in Dawson over the last several years.

Fortunately, last summer Alan desNoyes was in Dawson playing banjo at Diamond tooth Gerties, and giving Sandra help with her banjo playing. Sandra explained her song to him. He was impressed when he heard it. Alan is a very special person to her, she now says. He recorded her song. While she had the song from her heart, his accompaniment added so much to the recording. The song, says Sandra, is like a personal closure to her, after having these feelings within her for so many years, they are out. She feels it is her legacy.

The song, 'Butterbox Babies' has been played on CBC radio and CHON FM.

The 'butterbox babies' have been discovering each other. They have a web-site, a newsletter, and they write to each other. It is like discovering a sense of belonging with their own family. In July in 2001 they plan a reunion at East Chester in Lunenberg county. There Sandra will again be playing her song, which she has dedicated to all the 'butterbox babies', the survivors as well as the little ones buried in their own butterboxes.


Eight Clicks from Carcross: News from the Cache

by Josh Wilton

Some of you may be wondering what an article about the outskirts of Carcross is doing in the Klondike Sun. Perhaps I am driven to see my words in print, some sort sick attempt at self-validation. Or, I am motivated to write about anything lest I spend my hours watching those curiously addictive Juiceman infomercials.

Regardless, I will now describe for you life bakery-sitting at the Cinnamon Bun Cache just outside of Carcross on Spirit Lake: quiet. No new news of interest - none. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Of course, how would I know? Being trapped in a quaint bakery without access to media of any kind did not allow me to indulge in modern events, local or otherwise. Not until I left the bakery did I hear any significant news, news which would have altered reality significantly. Had I heard certain bits of news I might be extremely wealthy right now, or at least my eyes would not have turned yellow and started to glow.

Let me back up. It was a fair, crisp morning, sun ablaze and warming the late winter air as if it were (instead) a mid-spring day. There were no clouds in the sky, so I decided I should give relief to the chair I was straining with my ever-increasing posterior - it was time for a hike. And what better mound of rock to climb than Caribou Mountain, sitting snugly in my backyard just on the other side of Spirit Lake. Indeed, the views from the top are legendary, the vistas unrivaled.

From the bakery I saw patches of visible rock intermittently wriggling up the side of the ridge, where walking trail rests, a good sign for hiking. So off to it, I thought, securing my tripod to my daypack and slinging it over my shoulder, lacing up my winter hiking boots.

A short couple of kilometers away towards Carcross there is a driveway leading up to a log house. An exterior light stands near the home, the only visible artificial light seen in the darkness of the night from the bakery. I was told the trailhead lived somewhere near this house, so I hopped on my mountain bike and rode down the street and up the driveway. I found the house all right, but finding the trail was not so easy. Several times I stopped and stood in snow up to my groin wondering if I should go on. But, happy days, I stumbled upon the trail as I followed a ridge and went on walking.

Half way up the mountain I was looking at the shale and other such rocks. As I bent over to pick up a piece for a souvenir, my eye caught upon a special kind of glowing. It seemed to be sucking in light then spitting it out again - VERY odd! I stared at the small piece of (?) until I finally figured out what it was....

It was the mythical giant, glowing peppercorn of the New World as related in tales of old and numerous ancient scrolls. Being an amateur historian, I was extremely familiar with the old fables telling of this glowing peppercorn's magic ability to cure various physical ailments, from wrinkles, to psoriasis, to indigestion, to muscle cramping, to pink eye, to hangovers, to that vomitous feeling you can get after slurping.down a dozen funky oysters.

And I nearly forgot: immortality.

I tucked the peppercorn, a bit smaller than a quarter, into a film canister and stashed it in my day pack. Surely this magical item would come in handy at some point in my life, if not as an item of sale to increase the lucre in my billfold.

I continued on my hike with little more of interest to tell. It was a gorgeous view from top, though too hazy to take any good pictures, so I merely sat up top on a patch of ground clear of snow and ate my peanut butter sandwich - in the nude. Trust me ladies, this is no occasion for excitement, even if I bare to the skin. This is merely a literary device to keep you interested in the story; it is called bull(censored), but the editors told me my articles were lacking provocative sensuality. Sex sells, they say. So this is what I have to offer: my toes were naked and steaming as I slowly pulled off my wool stockings, exposing them to the erotic (chilly) breeze from the top of this romantic vista.

Twenty seconds later they were blue, then white, and when I started seeing the ends turn black I (without hesitation) applied generous layers of fresh, dry sock to warm them up, or at least to stave off frost-bite. One of my toes is notably shorter than the others now. What I won't do for my editors!

After the sunset it was difficult coming down the mountain. Three-quarters of the way I was walking knee-deep in snow among a naked bunch of poplar, birch, and willow -- very taxing. I suppose this is what happens when you lose your trail on the way down. I started following tracks of any kind, whether they be lynx or moose or dall sheep, or even the wacky and curving tracks of a snowshoer. I decided to head towards the ridge I had hiked on the way up, and after that proved too difficult, I trudged straight down the mountain, heading directly for the exterior light near the house at the trail head. Have I ever been so relieved to see artificial light?

At one point, exhausted from trudging in the snow, tired of ducking under angled trees, I began tearing through the frozen branches as if my hands were instruments of violence. When I came to an abnormally thick thatch, I wound up and gave a good solid smack to a leaning poplar. It did not budge, besides a mild wiggle, which I interpreted as a condescending tree giggle. As those familiar with physics can tell you, for each action there is an equal yet opposite reaction. The power of my tree slap, since the tree was rooted so firmly in the permafrost, bounced back to me and I heard something like a pop! near my sternum. Actually it was less a pop! and more like a shhhherzwwwwop! I stood there for a moment wondering if my body was going to fall into thirty or more pieces, but I felt nothing except the continual twanging of fatigue teasing most of the bones and muscles in my body.

So on I went, I finally made it back to my bike over 7 hours after heading up the mountain. Twas a memorable day, hiking in the snow, standing atop a mountain and feasting on the expanse below...and oh yes, coming across a mythical giant, glowing peppercorn.

Next day my upper back started killing me, giving me a headache, and rendering me an immobile mess. Early last summer it hurt like this, only much worse. A friend, a physical therapist, told me my some vertebrae were out of place and she readjusted them. You could see a rib poking into the skin of my upper abdomen. I slept on frozen green peas and sobbed that night.

But I did not have a chiropractor, physical therapist, or even masseuse near the bakery. Perhaps I ought have laid on my stomach and had the pony trounce about on my back. No. I was not about to smell like pony manure any more than I already did. There is no shower in the bakery, eight clicks out of Carcross.

The day passed on and with each hour I faded into a more delusional agony. While I was counting the rolls of film I had shot from the mountain, I opened up a canister with the special giant, glowing peppercorn and my eyes lit up. My elixir! My antidote for pain! Forgive me for not having thought of you sooner!

I didn't want to swallow the peppercorn whole, so I put on a pot of water and boiled some rotini pasta. When cooked sufficiently, I applied tomato alfredo sauce, some oil, sautéed mushrooms, and finally, grated glowing peppercorn. Indeed, I have never eaten a meal filled with so much hope and anticipation. Nor a meal that tasted so much like sulfur. If I can hold it down, I thought, I will be refreshed!

Next day, all was well. I felt a youthful vigor so went outside and hurled a few boulders into Spirit Lake to test my strength. Certainly, I thought, this body was made to inflict pain, not absorb it.

Then the owners of the bakery came home from their trip to Edmonton. "Why are your eyes yellow and pulsating?" they asked. "And what is that enormous lump on your back?" I told them about giant, glowing peppercorn. Their eyes nearly fell out of their sockets: "You've eating asteroid, my boy, there was a meteor that came screaming through a month ago! Didn't you hear the news?"

Obviously not, or else I would have sold the chunk over the Internet. Then I would have afforded ten chiropractors. Then I would not be growing a new lung and six new ears.

I'm back in Dawson, but you will most likely not see me by the time I leave in early May. I will not be going out in public until my eight new fingers fully develop and my second and third heads learn to control their mouths. Just imagine: expletive this, Jupiter that, asteroid belt, blah blah blah.... It's driving me mad. If I hear one more argument about who was born closer to the sun, I will use my third arm to slap them silly.

(Author's note: please do not even consider turning me in to NASA. Since eating the meteor I have developed acute ESP and know your thoughts even as you read. If you even CONSIDER calling the feds, I will lock you in a room for a night with my two new heads. Trust me, this is EXTREMELY unpleasant!)


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