Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Letting go

So...this beautiful island is our home.

See the barky?
The boys just had their spring break. A week off from school and nothing to keep us from buggering off in Galactic. The weather was generally poor - nothing like the pics above for the most part - so we just snuck off to the west side of Kodiak Island and darted from bay to bay for the week.

Eric steering Galactic out of Anton Larsen Bay, early in the morning and in the rain. Our kids seem to be completely immune to the effects of poor weather.

Eric has turned into a mad reader.
We had many rainy day Monopoly sessions.
Fly fishing is our latest passion.
Elias casting from a beaver dam.

The trip was great family time. It was so affirming to see how happy the boys were to be on the boat again.

But, a change is in the offing. Our work from the boat wasn't funded for this year, so we are confronting the decision to sell the mothership.

When we told Eric, he cried.

There's just no point in having a boat as grand as Galactic, and as demanding in terms of upkeep, while we're living in a house...unless we have work on the boat. 

But while we were away last week, a plan hatched among the family. What if we spiffed the boat up and got her ready to sell, and listed her, and then kept using her? We reason that a boat in use is in the best possible nick. 

And the Aleutians are right there in our back yard...

Friday, September 21, 2018

Harvest Time

All summer long Elias was reflecting on the orgy of potatoes that would await us on our return to Kodiak, his first attempts at growing his own doubtless (doubtless!) on their way to wild success. In spite of the fact that no one was at home to tend the garden.

Great thing about kids. The harvest was many orders of magnitude below the bounty of imagination, but Elias and Eric were overjoyed with what they got - one good meal's worth.

Luckily, it has been a completely bumper year for blueberries.

We pick and we pick, and still there are more.

And the silver salmon - Oncorhynchus kisutch. Their bounty has been all we could want, and we have  44 of the beasts safely in freezer and jars to see us through the dark months.

Carrie, Alisa's indefatigable partner in gillnetting, after another big day.

Any Alaskan resident is allowed to gillnet salmon for their personal use off the Buskin River, which is between downtown Kodiak and the airport.

So what did I do with the boys on the first weekend in a while that we didn't go gillnetting, since we finally had enough fish? Somehow I found myself talked into going to the Buskin River itself, to pursue that ridiculous enterprise of trying to catch a silver out of the river on hook and line.

We struck out. Gillnetting is so much more fun. But we did see another local who was out harvesting.

And, finally! We have our first deer in the freezer. And I got to reprise my favorite butchering photo.

This wild food is such a part of our identity as Alaskans. Why the heck else are we living here? Alisa and I ask each other time and again as we head out on some gathering mission or another. It all adds up to real work, these various efforts. But we're happy with the consolations of hard work, concrete rewards, and the promise of a long slow winter to come.

Monday, September 10, 2018

This Alaskan Life

Well, I really will get to a recap of the science side of our summer soon. We are living in very interesting times, in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, those twin stars that dominate the firmament of Alaskan fisheries.

But we continue this miraculous run of good weather that has made late August and early September so outstanding on the Gulf of Alaska coast. We continue to apply ourselves to using that good weather to our harvesting advantage. And our efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

Yesterday I shot a small buck just before sunrise, way up on that mountain that is so consistently productive for deer hunting. (You know, that one.) Good news is that I can still pack a deer out a mile and down 2,000 feet to the road all by myself, as long as it is a small one.

I was home by 13:30, and by 15:00 had rebuilt my energy levels to the point where I was biking out to that spot where the blueberries are so thick this year. (You know the spot.)

After I'd just started picking I got a call from Alisa. And let's stop to consider how the world changes. When we lived in Alaska 11 years ago, berry picking and getting a phone call were mutually exclusive activities.

Alisa was out gillnetting silvers with family friends. And they had 16 of those big beautiful beasts and were heading back to the harbor.

So berry picking was put on hold to assist with fish cleaning. And we're going back again today. (The fish are in - don't tell anyone!)

Family friend Noah, Eric, and Elias on Undercover.

Carrie and Alisa at the fish cleaning station. For years a popular bumpersticker in Alaska has been the one proclaiming "Alaska girls kick ass."