Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lumbago Way




My daughter, Autumn ,is in Hoonah visiting from Wasilla. It's the same town where Sarah Palin was mayor. It's up near Anchorage for those who may not be familiar with Alaska. She had mentioned that she wanted to get some pictures while she was here, so the other day we had a break in the weather and went out. We ventured down to Lumbago Way. It's an upaved alley of sorts that runs along the beach. Garteeni Creek is on the far side of the peninsula in the pictures. In the spring the Dolly Varden trout show up to feed on the salmon smolt that are working their way out to the saltwater. In late summer and fall there is a run of Humpback and Coho salmon. There may be Chums that run up there too, I can't remember. The creek runs right by the breakwater for the harbor and past the boat haulout area. Last year I watched a few folks go out on the flats on a minus tide and take a few buckets of clams or cockles out of there. I wish Iliked clams- I'd go dig some myself. In the years before I came on the scene, there used to be several shops located along the beach where shipwrights worked on boats. Apparently one of the shipwrights also made caskets and just about anything else that a person needed that could be made of wood. Folks here had to be fairly industrious just to survive. I understand that there were a number of small fishermen's cabins down along the beach too. The cabins are gone now, but there are still a few ramshackle buildings left standing as well as several really nice homes. It confounds me that here in Hoonah we can have what would be considered basically shacks right alongside fairly expensive dwellings. On the one hand it's nice to not have someone dictating where you can live or how your home has to look, but on the other it can be somewhat discouraging that the zoning laws aren't a little more stringent.
When I was working at L. Kane's store, there was a man who lived on Lumbago who was a mechanical genius. His name was Alfred Luchinetti. He gave new life to all the old equipment at the Thompson Fish Company, as well as Kane's and the other two stores. There wasn't anything that he couldn't fix, that I know of. The bad part was, he loved to talk. He insisted that I be right there while he worked on some cooler or freezer that needed his expertise, telling me the whole time what the problem was and step by step of what he was doing to fix it. I didn't dare leave to do any of my pressing work for fear that he would get insulted and I wouldn't be able to utilize his services again. Since everything in the store was ancient of days, we were always calling on him to repair something. I remember working at Hoonah Seafoods and one of the freezers broke down. Unbeknownst to me he had been called and was inside working with the door partially closed. When I opened the door to get something my nostrils were assulted with the most pungent odor. " What's that smell Alfred?" I asked. When he replied that he didn't smell anything I was astounded. How could anyone not smell it? It wasn't until much later that I realized it was him. He consumed such quantities of garlic that it was seeping out through his pores. Needless to say, when it comes to characters, per capita, Hoonah is right near the top.
While we were on our walk I noticed a couple of Bald Eagles hanging out in one of the Cottonwood trees. I'm not sure what they're eating right now. I imagine they might swoop down on an unsuspecting Mallard or Bufflehead or perhaps there's a Bullhead in the shallows. They always seem to find something. Some years back I watched one attack a swan. That was distressing. I was working on my boat one spring when an eagle grabbed a Dungeness Crab out of a tidal pool. That crab didn't give up without a fight though. While the eagle had his talons in the crab, the crab had hold of the bird's leg and it was screeching something fierce. Sometimes living here is like being a part of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. As long as no one gets hurt, it's pretty cool.



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