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Life in Alaska: As Cyclical as Salmon

Catch salmon for fresh food.

Split stumps for firewood.

Taste real Alaska…well, maybe not the winter.

We see the furry seed of the fireweed climbing to the top of the stalk where it signifies the onset of winter. The nights grow black, and rains provide a small luxury in the form of clear-water mud puddles for washing hands and muddy ax handles.

Hoards of mushrooms bloom in celebration of this change in season. Some are poisonous, others hallucinogenic, and many safely edible. We know not the difference, so will remain happy with photos.

Our closest neighbors, Dale and Reenie, live one mile away. We become friends, and they will dog-sit Jack while we take an excursion to Nome, Alaska. But first, they allow us to observe how they sustenance fish.

This is real Alaska. Throw out a net and pole stretch the buoys into a curve that catches the current of the Chilkat River. Haul in the net each time a buoy bounces. Slice off the dorsal fin, to identify fish as sustenance in the event of a Fish & Game inspection, and toss out net again.

Then eat a fried spam sandwich, which Mare and I find a bit ironic. Catch all the fish you wish. Use the lowest of the food chain for dog food and crab bait, and keep the best of the catch for the freezer, smoker and canning to get through the cycle of winter.

Dale takes me out crabbing. The first pot we pull contains a creature that even  Dale cannot identify. Looks like a cross between an octopus and starfish. It ate all the bait. The next couple of pots contain thirty or so Dungeness crabs, but we have to toss them back because they are female. Dale tells me that sometimes somebody pulls your pots, steals your crabs, and replace them with a couple of cans of cold beer.

Our friend, Laurie, comes to town for a visit, wearing a sun dress and thongs. She quickly changes her clothing, and purchases a fleece vest. We do not tell her about all the mice in the cabin, until the next morning when she decides to check-in to a hotel.

She and Mare have a great time looking at the bears, who hunt for running salmon. When Mare and Laurie decide to hit Karaoke night, I opt-out for a solo evening with Jack, back at the cabin.

I sit on the cabin deck and hear the mating call of a moose. The sound makes me a little horny…perhaps the time to move on has come, or maybe I’m as cyclical as salmon.

No worries, we’re venturing  to the most western roads on the North American Continent – Nome, Alaska. Fate strikes…we know the assistant director of recreation in Nome. We met him, Jeremy, at the southern most town on the South American Continent in Puerto Williams, Chile. So, we got in touch and he will give some local advice on how to roam in Nome, where the Musk Oxen graze on the tundra. Stay tuned…

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. martiwrites #

    What a shot of reality. Great stuff. Living the life takes work and planning, it seems. Good stuff, Mitchell! Oh, and this sentence : “Hoards of mushrooms bloom in celebration of this change in season” totally rocks. Keep writing, ol’ buddy….


    August 28, 2011
    • Thanks for the encouraging words Marti. Being away from television news and having only spurts of internet is very refreshing!

      August 29, 2011
  2. Ma & Pa #

    We very much agree with Marti regarding the sentence.. you truly are a writer son!!!!

    August 29, 2011
  3. love your posts, I can feel the change of season even though I’m not there….ha, did I know about all the mice in the cabin? I slept so well up in the loft. anyway, your post makes me miss Haines and the too brief time I spent there with you!

    August 29, 2011
    • Jill, we had snapped several mice before your arrival…they seem to come in cycles. You left a little too soon!

      August 30, 2011
  4. Christi #

    I have had a great time catching up this morning and imagining I’m breathing that fresh, crisp Alaska air and inspecting those fairytale-like mushrooms! What a wonderful summer you seem to have had, Ron and Marilynn!

    August 31, 2011
    • Yes, Christi, we’re very lucky. Especially seeing broken heat records in Phoenix!

      September 1, 2011
  5. wonderful pictures guys. the mushroom looks really tempting .

    September 27, 2011

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