Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Ilse and the Interim

I tried unsuccessfully over the past two weeks to get these pictures to download. I finally had to bring in the big guns to get the job done. Our family friend, Candy, a Stanford grad suggested that I try only downloading one picture at a time. Obviously it worked. I'm so glad that there are assets of such value here, even in tiny Hoonah Alaska.

Several weeks ago I took the dog down to the cannery. Periodically I mention going in the truck to the beach. His little tail wags like it's going to fly off and he can barely wait until I open the door and lift him on to the seat. It's at that point that he abruptly changes his mind about going anywhere in a vehicle and the crying starts. It's only a five minute drive to the cannery from my house, but it seems like an eternity for both of us. Once we're at our destination though, he's happy as a clam at high tide, sniffing the abundance of new smells and having acres of area in which to do his duty. It was during our last excursion that I noticed the daisies growing under the hull of the Interim. That's the troller with all the paint missing. All the things that a trolling boat should have are gone- the poles, the gurdies, the rigging, the anchor. I'm familiar with this boat, I remember when it was still fishing some years back. At one point, whether because of neglect or whatever, it sank, right in it's stall at the harbor. I believe it was winter and I'm not sure, but I think it may have had an abundance of snow that had accumulated. In any event, it was a hell of a waste. I hate to see a good boat neglected. There's no two ways about it, a boat is a lot of work. Even fiberglass ones need maintanence. There's a saying amongst boat owners. Two of the happiest days of your life are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell it. In any event, I thought it was fitting that daisies are growing under the Interim. It's nice to see some flowers at its final resting place. The other boat, the large one that still has paint is the Ilse. If memory serves me correctly it hit a rock and got a hole in it. I believe the owner sold it for a pittance and collected the insurance. Eventually they both ended up at the cannery as points of interest for the tourists. Like the Interim, the Ilse has been stripped of all it's working hardware. The boom and powerblock are gone and of course the seine net and probably all the hydraulics. Too bad. There probably won't ever be any more seine boats or trollers built again. Certainly not wood ones. They represent a bit of history. I suspect that eventually, like these two fine boats, all the commercial fishing boats will one day be gone. People will resign themselves to buying seafood from some sterile farm with pen raised fish and shrimp and clams. The joy of being on the high seas and the challenge of Mother Nature will be replaced with the safety of a nine to five job tossing pellets to a bunch of Pisci wannabes. That will be a sad day indeed. I hope I'm not around to see it.
On a lighter note, I noticed this stand of Fireweed growing between the beach and the road. I love Fireweed. It adds such a spash of color and contrast to all the green. I guess when the entire plant blooms all the way to the top, it means summer is over. That usually seems to happen in August. While everyone in the lower forty-eight is suffering through the dog days of summer, our fall is beginning. After thirtyfour years here, its still hard for me to accept. I guess I just don't want to think about the impending winter.
After every big tide, all the kelp and grass and assorted other flotsam and jetsam gets deposited above the high tide line. The simple act of walking the beach at that time is an awakening to your senses. The smell of the kelp and small sea creatures that have died and washed ashore. The screech of the seagulls as they fly overhead or perch on the pilings or docks. The feel of the gravel as it gives way under your feet or the crunch of small clam or mussle shells, discarded by birds or starfish. On this particular day there was a jellyfish mixed in with the seaweed and other drift. It was a dark amber color and for all the world it looked like a huge, soft gem, like something that should have been surrounded by gold filigree, but it was much too large to make a pendant of, except perhaps hanging from a huge chandelier in a majestic hall somewhere. There were small starfish and a few hunks of driftwood scattered in the mess. I've often picked up interesting pieces to take home and put in the garden or as with the smaller ones in the bathroom upstairs. Jan likes lighthouses so our upstairs bathroom has a collection of of lighthouses and other things pertaining to the sea. One of our young citizens with special needs has made a business out of polishing the glass he's found on the beach. His name is Casey Bitz and his business is Bitz of Glass. He sells his product at the store that the school maintains at the cannery. I believe he's expanded it to include earrings now and possibly other pieces of jewelry.
Well, as per usual, I've rambled on again. Its how my brain works- now trying this, now trying that. It's a potpourri of thoughts that may or may not come together and perhaps I should be emberrassed to put them all out there for whomever to experience, but I'm not. Hopefully it won't be so long before my next entry. Until then, goodnight.








Friday, July 16, 2010

The Dog Catcher

Finally! I was successful in getting the pictures to upload or download or whatever it is that they do. I tried to do this blog a week ago, but the pictures wouldn't cooperate. Whine, bitch, complain. Anyway, if I don't hit the wrong key with my clumsy fingers I'll get this blog done tonight. For the past few weeks I've been pretty much hanging out over at Homeshore fishing for Dog salmon or Chum salmon as they are more properly known as. I doubt many people would pick up a can of dog salmon at the grocery store. They probably wouldn't snag a jar of Humpy either. Sounds like an add for a geriatric sex product or something. However, most moms wouldn't thing twice about buying their family a nutritious can of Pink salmon. To most fishermen here though, we refer to Pinks as Humpies, a shortened version of Humback salmon. They're named that because of the pronounced hump that the males develop as they get closer to the streams where they spawn. It's been really nice on the one hand, fishing so close to home. the down side is that I end up going home frequently at the end of the day so I don't get back out fishing until half the day is over, or so it seems. I did spend a few nights out though, although the anchorages at Homeshore are non-existent in my opinion. Without fail it seemed like some version of a Westerly was blowing every time I had determined that I was going to spend the night on the boat, meaning I had to find a more suitable harbor. I spent several nights in Spasski Bay where these pictures were taken. It's a lovely, protected harbor. The down side is that it's across Icy Straits, so I have to run at least an hour and a half to get to it. That's about how long it takes for me to run to Hoonah from Homeshore, but I know from experience that if I go home, I'll end up staying up late and watching Star Trek re-runs and news and maybe Jay Leno and I'll be too tired to get up early and go fishing. What an undisciplined buffoon. Oh well. I did an interview with Adam Greenwald for an upcoming book about the local fishermen. His father, Robert, homesteaded Spasski back in the early 1900's. He was quite an industrious fellow. He married a native gal from Hoonah and together they had fourteen children. At the time there were multitudes of canneries and salteries all around the area. Refrigeration hadn't been invented yet, so almost everything the workers at the canneries ate was salted or canned or dried. Robert bought a fifty foot sailboat called the Arc, and went around to the different canneries and inquired about them purchasing fresh eggs, meat and produce. Of course they were more than happy to give him the bussiness, so he proceeded to raise cattle and chickens and various vegetables and fruits that he would deliver to the canneries in his boat. In the winter he dug out a pit for snow that he had the kids tamp down with their snowshoes. If I understood correctly, the snow was mounded up like an igloo and covered with moss from the surrounding woods to insulate it. He dug out a doorway and steps and a hallway in the snow and had large holes on either side of the hallway to store quarters of beef to keep cool in the summer. He was quite an impressive man. He figured out a way to determine which chickens were laying. He bought a bunch of half inch paint brushes which he dipped in India Ink and strung on a wire in front of the laying boxes. The chickens that were laying had ink on their tails. Those that didn't have were bound for the stew pot. I wouldn't think of that in a hundred years. I guess some guys were born with certain gifts and others are born to admire those who have been so blessed.