I didn’t expect Yellowknife to have gigantic tomatoes. The Canadian Territories are leashed agriculturally by northern latitudes and brief windows to grow anything that’s not a native species. Or so I thought. One random August day I found myself in Yellowknife, NWT. I wasn’t looking for gardening bliss, but rather searching for the fabled Ragged Ass Road. Wanderers have a sense of humor and Yellowknife’s historical street-namers were no different. I wanted to see for myself the street that held bragging rights to such a conspicuous name. Besides, I have a souvenir code and if I wanted one of those green and white pseudo street signs boldly declaring Ragged Ass, I needed to actually see it.
With plenty of daylight left and being pointed in the general direction, I went exploring. Besides, I wanted to walk off lunch. It turns out that culinary prowess is also a trait of Yellowknife. The salmon and whitefish made perfect, spicy bedfellows in my rosé seafood chowder. I’m still dreaming of a second bowl.
I was caught off guard by the bright blue, yellow and red houses dotted around Great Slave Lake. It was as unexpected as finding the tundra rivalled New England in autumn glory. Yellowknife and her northern sisters were drawing me in, wrapping me around their Northwest Territory fingers and I wanted to see more.
Then I looked up the road and stopped short. It wasn’t Ragged Ass, but glass! A red deck had been transformed to a greenhouse and huge tomato plants boldly filled the large space. Vibrant and lush, the plants shimmered with vitality, and daring. I had always heard the north spoken of as an unforgiving climate, but I saw the plump fruits of ingenuity, determination and adaptation correcting my misconception.
I had found a Garden of Eden north of the 60th parallel. I wanted a tomato sandwich. I wanted to hold the slick smoothness of those plucky fruits in my hands. I wanted to shove my nose deep into the leaves, inhaling the punchy fragrance tomatoes alone have.
But that was private property and I was leaving in the morning. Gawking, but aware of the setting sun, I remembered my mission to Ragged Ass Road. It was a short, partial dirt road lined with a few houses and would have been mundane except for it’s name. But I knew its secret. The unassuming road had led me to magic that day. I was not a gardener when I went to Yellowknife, but I came back one.
*I first shared this story with World Nomads. Cool site and community for those into traveling. I'm pretty sure I'm older than their typical blogger. My footloose and fancy free days of traveling, backpacking and studying in different countries is a bit tempered by a mortgage (I LOVE my house), 2-legged and 4-legged kids (whew - they are total adventurers, too!), and a heady hankering to explore backcountry backpacking and road trips with the family.
Sometimes our itineraries change focus and we find whole new adventures to play in . . . Never stop exploring!