Is it possible to change so much in three weeks? Because, you know, if my heart had a mirror I don’t know if I would recognize it.
And it seems strange, because this is not new to me—this cold, this bannock, this sound of a bush plane, these BP cuffs and insulin needles.
I arrived it Slate Falls, Ontario on March 15th, with 2000km and three hours of icy logging roads behind me.
Hours after I got here the community lost power and that night I threw up all over a strangers maroon carpet. By morning my stomach had been turned inside out. The next day, lying weak under the covers, I felt very alone and knew there was no going back, and cried and then laughed.
I’m glad there was no going back, even though the chicken in me whimpered, curled up there in the chilly bedroom.
This just feels so right.
I can’t even tell you why.
Except that when I stand in the dawn light, and see the lake stretching white, white, and the wood smoke laying across the pines, held low by the icy air, I can breathe deep.
And everyone laughs—the kids when they wiggle my crooked nose and the adults when I trip over things and spill tea all over the floor and try to speak Ojibway or take their blood pressure. And I can join them.
Working at the clinic has been like discovering a part of me I lost. Through the urban healthcare education I had begun to wonder how my earthy soul was going to survive the 0800 meds, the white walls, and the schedule, schedule, schedule of unit life.
This, this is what I wanted when I started my first semester.
When treating patients is more than following a Doctors order and a Kardex and you chat with them about their fish nets, and your assessment skills are suddenly your lifeline.
I love treating a child for an ear infection one day, giving him a ride to school the next, and drinking tea with his grandma two days later.
I love having a tiny gravel airstrip be the focus of planning your day. When is the plane coming? Who is on it? Who is leaving? What blood work/mail/packages do we need to send out? I love meeting it, standing in the cold with my moose hide mitts, waiting for the red mail bag.
Oh, I feel as if we should have met.
under a Mennonite volleyball net, barefoot outside a church … or that special place writers go inside the sky, where, over steaming hot tea, they discuss the importance of commas, capitalization, and Cats.
not necessarily in that order.
Esta, your writing is wonderful.
Sounds like you found your “nitch.” Loved this post–the life, the peace…yet the terrified feeling at the beginning–“what am I doing?” 🙂 I wonder if maybe “terrified” and “peace” go together more often than we consciously realize…
Mary Horst said:
Loved this post and the pictures. Looking forward to more. I visited Slate Falls in it’s primitive days. Not sure there even was a clinic back then – late 1970s
Rita Nisly said:
Esta, I’m glad your mom shared this link; it made me cry to read all about you in S.F.–back to your roots and happy in the Lord! Also, I must add, it made me homesick to live on a reserve again. Enjoy each day!!
esta…i miss you…wish i could be with you,and have lots of adventures…instead i am stuck here…happy happy every thing’s going good…God bless
Cathie Gingerich said:
So fun…remember our talk in front of the fire…thankful you are there…
You sure know how to flood me with so many memories of the “North!” Please drink in the sights of the Northern Lights, and enjoy the walleye and bannock. Those 7.5 years in the North were good years though they were hard. I was in a plane once that pulled up to the dock at Slate Falls but I didn’t get off. I flew over many times but never got to experience it. Our prayers are with you. So proud of you.
james n silvia said:
Thank you for giving us glimpse of what
Is happening in your life. May God bless
You in your service there.