Herbal Essences

Fall 2011 (V5I3) ~ The Yukon Questionnaire

photo: www.archbould.com
Author and Aroma Borealis owner Bev Gray gave us a whiff of the Yukon's good life

Name: Beverley Gray

Place of Residence: Rat Lake, Yukon

Occupation: Herbalist, owner of Aroma Borealis, and author of The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North.

How long have you lived in the Yukon?

“I have lived in the North half of my life. I moved here from Yellowknife via Ottawa. I was born on Vancouver Island and have lived all over Canada and Europe, as my dad served in the Canadian Armed Forces. When I left home, I chose to live in the North.”

What brought you here? 

“I came north as a journalist working for Northern News

Services out of Yellowknife and Inuvik and did some stringing for Reuters news agency, where I got to cover lots of exciting northern news, including an interview with the owner of Virgin Records, Richard Branson.

Ultimately, I am a mountain girl, so the Yukon called.”

What keeps you here? 

“The boreal forest, the mountains, the land, and the people. I find the North peaceful, energizing, and inspiring. Clean air, land, and water. And lots of medicinal plants.”

Settle the debate for us: what makes someone a “real” Yukoner? 

“A real Yukoner loves it here. I think it is a heart connection to the natural world and the people (who fall into the natural-world category).”

What’s the biggest tall tale you’ve told friends or family in the South about life in the North? 

“I spend lots of time in the outdoors in the summer and have never used DEET. But, this is actually true!”

How do you get your friends or family in the South to come visit? 

“I just tell them I know they will love it. The light, the dark, the cold, the heat, the people, the land: we have it all.”

Who is your favourite Yukon character of all time? 

“This is a hard one. Really, the Yukon is full of characters from the past, present, and leading us into the future. We live in a land of extremes, and I think this reflects in the people who live in the Yukon.”

I wouldn’t change _________ for all the gold in the Klondike. 

“Northern wilderness.”

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in the territory? 

“Hmm. So many great food experiences in the Yukon… I must say I like fresh fish over a campfire, but Agnes Seitz from the Mount Lorne Community Centre always comes through with amazing food at the music nights at the Centre. Also, my friend Katie Delau is an amazing rawfood cook. She turned me on to kale chips, and I can’t seem to get enough of them.”

What’s one thing about the Yukon that more of us should take advantage of?

“The peace and quiet.”

What’s your favourite piece of little-known Yukon trivia? 

“That the Latin name of our territorial flower has changed from Epilobium angustifolium to Chamerion


What do you wish more Canadians knew about life here? 

“That the people are amazing, very creative, and innovative.”

Where is your favourite place in the territory? 

“Besides where I live at--Rat Lake, in the Carcross Valley--I would say Rampart House, on the Porcupine River. It has an amazing feeling, and the plant life is incredibly abundant. I have never seen juniper berries that drip off the branches as they do there.”

What’s the best up-close-and-personal encounter you’ve had with the local wildlife? 

“We had two boreal wood ducks trying to nest in our wood stove. I made them a bed of fresh chickweed and put a bowl of fresh water in it for them so I could make sure that they were not injured from their long, dirty journey down the stovepipe. They made themselves right at home. When the phone rang that day I kept answering it, ‘Ducks Unlimited!’ When I knew they were okay, we released them.”

You’re on the phone to a friend from the Outside. No one from the government is listening. Do you say “Yukon” or “The Yukon”? 

“I use both.”

When the cold and dark gets to you, where do you go to recharge? 

“I really like my hot tub, out on my deck. We have front-row seats for the sun and moonrise and the best view of the Gray Ridge Mountains.”

Dog mushing or snowmobiling? 

“I like mushing and mushers, but I don’t get out to do it very often. Mushers work really hard caring for their dogs--they are so dedicated. But honestly, I like anything that gets you out in the bush.”

How cold is too cold? 

“We can’t do anything about the weather. On the very coldest, darkest days, I always make sure I get outside. But the main activity is just trying to make sure the pipes don’t freeze and keep the wood stove burning hot.”

What author, musician, band, or artist from the territory do you think should be more famous? 

[Singer-songwriter] Nicole Edwards. She has the most amazing voice. Her voice, songs, amazing spirit, and

her ability to connect with her audience inspire me. I think the whole world would benefit from listening and dancing to her tunes.”

You’ve just won a huge jackpot at Diamond Tooth Gerties Casino, and you have 24 hours to spend it in the Yukon. Where are you headed? 

“Aroma Borealis! The last time I visited Gerties I bought 25 dollars worth of chips and played all night, lost and won, and left with 25 bucks in my pocket.”

Finally, what does “The Spell of the Yukon” mean to you personally? 

“It is not the material wealth that is important in life. A life well lived is one where we live our passion, connect deeply with those we love, and contribute in the best way we know how to make the world a better place.”

My favorite part of the poem:

It’s the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,

It’s the forests where silence has lease;

It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,

It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.Y


Harper Street Publishing
Box 141
Carcross, Yukon Y0B 1B0

We're on the Tagish Road!


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