We have circled around once again to the day we officially celebrate the wild salmon here in Alaska. It can not be stressed enough how this aquatic migrator is vital to both Alaska’s economy and psyche.
Festivities can be found throughout Alaska today. Events include everything from catching & cleaning, to preparing our favorite fish. I’m sure you can even find some salmon poetry if you look for it.
So, grab that rod and get out on a river bank or climb over the gunwales and wet your line. The salmon are running.
I sat out at the end of the dock, watching a family of ducks float about just past the reeds. The eagle I have seen since my arrival, was riding the thermals up high. The sun was slowly setting, causing the smokey sky to give off its wildfire glow.
After hanging out with me for the better part of a day, the ducks have grown used to me, and barely paddle off when I venture out in the canoe.
Thunder was building tension off in the distance, when I saw the eagle dive. I wondered if it saw a fish. No, I realized almost immediately that it wasn’t diving for a fish. The talons extended out from the golden eagle’s body, its large wings spread outward to slow down its impact.
Ducks. The eagle was in the mood for duck. There was a moment of intense squawking. Then silence. The remaining brood paddled quickly away, and the eagle settled down just past the reeds.
A minute later, I watched a raven come into the kill site. I could see only its black head, as it hopped closer and closer to where I had last seen the golden eagle. One final raven hop, and the great raptor rose up with wings wide and high. The raven hopped just out of range, but continued to harass the eagle while it ate.
We don’t get as many rousing thunderstorms as the Midwest. We simply don’t have the humidity. However, the one that came through as I sat out on the dock was a decent one. Lightning was all around the lake, and the thunder rolled over the hills and across the water. Only a few scattered drops of rain, unfortunately. All show, and no soak.
I went inside more to avoid the lightning than the rain drops.
I had no intention of even turning the valve open on the propane, but the severely darkened sky kind of forced my hand. It took a little while, but eventually the gas made it down the copper lines, and the familiar hiss of the propane lights filled the little log cabin.
The warm glow of the propane lights from outside the cabin, where the fox stared me down
I’ve missed these lights. They say “north woods” to me, and I have always enjoyed relaxing under their warm glow, and soft hiss. The added heat they bring in the winter is nothing to scoff at either.
So I wrote, and read under the lights as the lightning surrounded the cabin and the resulting thunder pounded down upon the hills.
Former Alaskan Governor Jay Hammond in front of a section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline
July 21 is Jay Hammond Day in Alaska. Hammond, a popular figure in Alaska, served as governor between 1974 – 1982.
Hammond, born in Troy, NY, was a Marine fighter pilot in WWII, flying for the Black Sheep Squadron in China. He moved to Alaska after the war, and continued his flying as a bush pilot. Hammond entered state politics in 1959.
Governor Hammond died at his homestead on Lake Clark in 2005. Alaska could use the Bush Rat Governor right about now.