Saturday, July 10, 2010
Living large AK-style
This summer continues to amaze me. In a lot of ways, this feels like my first summer here. I've fished, camped, run across mountain passes, brushed footprints with brown bears, stood 20 feet from a black bear, seen more sunrises and sunsets than I can count, and now, I can add dipnetting to my list of Alaska firsts nearly 20 years after coming here.
On Thursday night, my friend and I sauntered across the bay on a beautiful evening, leaving the harbor around 8:30 at night and nosed our way into China Poot Bay. If I've ever been there before, I certainly don't remember. On the way out of the harbor, I had a chance to drive the outboard motor - another first, and I really enjoyed that, too. Anyway, skies which had been swollen with rain for days finally began to part, and as we skimmed the surface of the water, I got that rush of freedom that is so often within my grasp on the water.
When we arrived at the waterfalls where people go dipnetting, there were a few guys coming out with bags filled with salmon. I can't eat salmon, sadly, because it turns my guts into a war zone, but I was game for the experience. Unfortunately, we weren't really prepared, but that didn't stop my lifelong-Alaskan companion, who simply rolled up his cuffs and sauntered up the (veryveryvercold) river in search of fish. While I waited for him to return, I sat on a rock in the middle of the river, watching the swirling water foam around me, and eagles tango over my head. At one point, this one downy feather came loose during a tussle. It floated along the air currents, so slowly, drifting lazily down the river corridor into the sunset-filled horizon. A simple, little thing, but one, I realize I am privileged to see.
After my friend returned empty handed but dry and pleased that he tried, we cruised around the other side of the bay, exploring little knolls, grassy knots and marveling at the extraordinary surroundings. The south side of Kachemak Bay is like another planet. Everything is lusher, wilder, more rocky and Alaska-esque. It reminds me more of Cape Breton, where the weather has obviously shaped the land with a rough hand. I drink in the cooling air as the sun finally sets around 11:30 p.m. and we cut through the glassy murk, growing quiet because at some point, there is really nothing more to say that can sum up the feeling of privilege at being here, at experiencing this extraordinary place.