I’d seen Mary’s headache, malaise, and swollen neck before. Her older sister had mononucleosis in college and looked and acted the same way. When Mary’s tonsils started to swell, I decided to make quick time to a medical clinic at Ft. Nelson, BC.
Three minutes and $70 later, Mary exited with a scrip for penicillin. No blood tests, no swabs; the doctor took a quick look in her mouth and announced it was tonsillitis. Penicillin wouldn’t hurt the girl and might help, so we had it filled. Mono is untreatable anyway.
My husband asked why I didn’t see the doctor myself, since I was still hacking. “I just have a cold,” I answered. For less than the cost of penicillin, I could rinse my mouth with Alberta rye whiskey. If it didn’t cure me, at least I wouldn’t mind so much.
While I painted this, Mary slept on the ground next to me, wrapped in a heavy blanket and shivering. She was having a horrible time, but managed a moment of levity when she saw several bikers toiling up the pass. “Finger food for the bears,” she said, and closed her eyes again. We’d seen both grizzlies and black bears all along the way.
In 2016, my daughter Mary and I set off across Alaska and Canada on a Great White North Adventure, which you can read about starting here. We arrived in Anchorage at the beginning of September and got home in mid-October. In between, we visited every province but PEI (been there, done that), and Yukon Territory. In retrospect, it might have made more sense to do this during the summer, since Alaska and Canada threw a mess of strange weather at us.
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Avalanche Country is 9X12, oil on archival canvasboard.
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