Jason and I in The Pas

Jason and I in The Pas

My irrepressible husband, J., unsatisfied at the idea of being a supply teacher for the rest of his life, went and landed a full-time teaching job in The Pas, Manitoba.

Where? That’s what I said.

Here’s where: get in a car in Winnipeg, go north, and drive for six hours through flat land known as boreal plain. In October, we did that, our eyes on tamarack trees, orange as candle flame, and exotic black-and-white magpies we’d never seen before. In The Pas, two bald eagles took down a duck over the wide, brown water of the Saskatchewan River while we watched.

These days, we’re back home and packing up. A For Sale sign in the front yard of the house we thought we’d grow old in. It isn’t easy: the task of leaving family and friends to go a long, long way away.

I’ve started thinking a lot about home, how we define it, and the extended history of transitions that is inherent in my own family history: my grandfather who came to Canada when he was 17, my ancestors in another century who left Scotland during the Highland Clearances.

I’m not changing countries, barely even crossing mine. But, as a friend said, “Living in the north with a school teacher has to be THE quintessential Canadian settler experience.”

In late December we’ll pack up our wagon (a blue Subaru Forester) with a few precious things we don’t want to send with the moving company, and Griffy, the stray cat we found starving in a parking lot last winter. We’ll head north and at Sudbury, turn west.

Lately, my motto comes from the brilliant Manitoba-born Margaret Laurence: “The wind will bear me, and I will drift and settle, and drift and settle. Anything may happen, where I’m going.”