Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Alask Trip

In all actuality it has been a perfect visit. The weather has been warm if pretty wet… but I expect the weather to be wet. We have fished and fished but there have not been very many catches. I did catch one HUGE rainbow trout… easily 5 pounds… though I am sure after a few more tellings he will get bigger and bigger, soon to be six, seven or even eight. He fought like a tiger, fooling us into thinking that he had to be one of those elusive silvers clear up until he was in the boat. He was fat, strong and beautiful, excepting his smile… he had lived in that little stretch of the Kenai River, stealing the baits of the salmon fishermen his entire life. And he had paid a pretty high price for this easy life; his mouth was scarred and twisted, mutilated by the endless number of times he had been caught and released. He has lived long enough and survived enough harrowing encounters to earn a name… he will forever be known as scarface.

We did catch a three silver salmon (Coho Salmon to some) and have filleted and frozen one and smoked two more. My daughter-in-law calls smoked salmon candy, and while the intellectual part of me agrees… it does taste good… the little girl that had few snack options other than pungent salty smokey “Squaw Candy”… (apologies for the culturally insensitive word… but that IS what it is called here in Alaska… even the native people call it that.)… anyway… just the smell of smoked salmon evokes too many visceral memories. I just don’t like it that much anymore.

We took a road trip to Seward and went to the sea life center there, a nice if somewhat smallish aquarium that shows the undersea Alaskan stuff. I think that the high point was the giant Stellar Sea Lion bull… but I felt a bit sad about how small his tank was in comparison to him. And he was alone… I think he looked lonely.

We have had endless good meals… I made “Hook Point Humpy”… deep fried breaded bites of fresh pink salmon that melted in our mouths. I could have cooked three times as much and still not gotten all I wanted… it was a marvelous thing to watch those delectable bites disappear into Livie’s stomach almost as fast as we dished up her plate. We’ve eaten tons of fresh vegetables from the garden… broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, carrots… fresh new potatoes stolen from under the still producing tops… it is a treasure hunt each trip into the garden.

Today has dawned bright and sunny… the first beautiful day here in these parts in over a month. My father, known to all as Grampa has orchestrated a coupe… he has decided to send my son, daughter-in-law and Livie off on another scenic road trip, handing over a C-note to insure dining and shopping fun… and I am slated to another docket. Assisting with taking Gramma out on the river for a fishing trip. This is a role my father loves to put me in… the first mate to his captain, the step and fetch’it, the go’fer, the legs and arms and eyes to keep his memories alive. Making the fishing trips of today carry just enough of the hint of those of yesteryear to feed the memories. It will be nostalgic and today I am brimming over with deep thoughts, nostalgia and tears. It won’t be exactly the same, nothing ever is, but I will sit and listen as they relive each memory, the fish caught here, the time they got tangled up there, each experience reviewed, savored, refreshed and relived … and I will be the witness to these stories and hearing them, commit them to memory… and remembering insure that they will live on, archived for another thirty years until I can pass them on to sons and granddaughters and great grandchildren…

There I go again, starting to overflow with tears… somehow, in this place mortality and eternity swirl about me… touch me more often… force me to stop and contemplate… and I had every good intention of making this post lighter, more palatable, easier to swallow… and there I go again… with a lump stuck in my throat… blinking, swallowing down unshed tears.

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