Summer Scenes

Aahh, another beautiful day in sunny SE Alaska! I have to keep pinching myself to be sure this string of beautiful days is real. And here it is:

Today's weather

Today’s weather

Another week of sunny icons on my weather forecast. Another amazing Sunday full of sun and temps that invite us out to a picnic at Ward Lake, a hike after lunch along the lake path, errands, dinner on the deck…any excuse to stay outside and soak up the Vitamin D! All Alaskans have a Vitamin D deficit. But today…this summer…should help a bit.

This is a summer of fishing. Some seasons are better than others. We don’t own a boat. Sometimes we charter, or join friends who’re going out. Sometimes we buy our fish. But not so much this year. Between the fish Rob has caught, and the generosity of friends, we have a freezer full of fresh Coho salmon…a little King too. To me it’s all delicious. Some is smoked. Most of the bounty is just flash frozen, waiting to make an appearance at dinner a few months from now, when summer is only a warm memory on a rainy, blustery evening. Hey, even on a day like this I know October is coming.

Salmon portions

Salmon portions

Salmon filet

Salmon filet

All done!

All done!

Sometimes we use a local processing plant for prepping and freezing. Some fish I’ve done myself, using my trusty Food Saver vacuüm sealer. I never sealed anything before we moved here. I never heard of canning fish or meat before we moved to Alaska. My grandmothers canned vegetables, jams, preserves…all sorts of produce. But I never knew them to can meat or fish of any kind. We didn’t really have hunters in the family. But here, everyone cans fish. Actually they jar it. People process the stuff by the case. I don’t can anything. But I know how to freeze.

We watch the water in front of the house. This appeared a couple of days ago:

Yacht on the water

Yacht on the water

There is a constant parade in front of our windows. Summer is the season of float planes and fishing charters, sail boats, cruise ships and jet skis, kayaks and tour boats. Actually the float planes run year round, but they’re particularly busy in the summer. They start flying at first light.

We often sit in the early evening, looking out at the water, watching the all the coming and going. In spite of our ambivalence about living here, I sometimes think we’ll look back on these days and cherish them. We’ll remember how beautiful our view was, how there was always something happening in front of our windows. We’ll look back on the sunny afternoons and know that we had it good. We found a small, sweet spot in all the craziness of life.

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Summer day, summer planning

It’s almost 8:00 pm, but the sun is still bright. Here in Alaska, the summer sky stays light later and later, until you only have a brief time of true darkness. The summer evenings are long…really the afternoon is just elongated until 9:00, 10:00 at night, when twilight falls. Mornings begin about 4:00, with the light peaking in the bedroom windows, waking us up, causing us to turn into the pillows, burrow under the cover, block out the too-early dawn.

This is the season of activity, or increased activity, here in Ketchikan. The big cruise ships are once again in town on a daily basis, the seasonal businesses are open, and the fishing tourists are here in force. Not for nothing is Ketchikan the salmon capital of the world. And the fish know it. Soon I’ll be freezing salmon and halibut, vacuum sealing the fish I buy from local vendors, putting a little of this Alaska treasure away for coming months.

I look out and see the rain falling through the sun, a rainbow is on the distant horizon, and the sun and shadows fall mixed across my living room floor, even as I listen to the sound of the rain pouring out of the gutters. This is the season when the rain doesn’t feel too cold, and the showers are more gentle than the downpours we get in the fall.

My little front garden…my secret garden, I call it, because the small space in front of the house is enclosed with a shaped hedge…has blossomed with the warmer weather, and now looks a little overgrown and in need of a trimming. My rhubarb, tucked away in a corner of the little square, has flourished, and I’ve already cut it twice. There are small blue flowers growing, and the lilac has leafed out, getting so bushy it has hidden the street number mounted on the house. I’ll have to cut the lilac back if I want FedEx to find me with future deliveries. The clematis vines I planted (to replace the one that died from January’s week of single digit temperatures) are growing and already climbing the trellis.

I have painters coming this month to repaint the garage door, sand and paint the front step bannister, and touch up any exterior walls that are showing signs of wear. This is an old home, “historic,” built in 1920, and although it has been remodeled periodically, the exterior is still a wood siding. That translates to a lot of painting, over the years, and though we can get by this summer, maybe even another year, with touch ups, our turn is coming. Yes, we’ll get to paint, or pay to have someone paint, all three stories of this fine old place. Can’t wait for that one!

We now have two sump pumps and a dam in the back corner of the basement. I cautiously believe the episodic appearance of a lake down there has ended. We won’t know for sure until the fall rains, but we sustained some pretty wet weather this spring. The concrete dam joins the other great oddity of the basement, the huge granite boulder that the house sits on, jutting out into the unfinished portion of the bottom floor, reminding me that this island is indeed a rocky place, and some of the rock was too large for early builders to remove. So they built around it, and over it.

I make my list of chores to complete in the next few weeks. It’s June already, and summer is here. We leave to go “down” for a summer ramble (read rv road trip) July 14. We’ll be back mid-September. We’re hunting for “next,” doing some casual but focused exploring during the time we’re away. But first, my lists have to be made, checked off as I work through them. I’m working for income the next several weeks, storing up like a squirrel saving nuts for winter. But there’s more too. I have indoor and outdoor to-dos; weeding and writing; sorting, cleaning, thinning, organizing. I love this time of renewal, preparation, expectation. I’m not just cleaning out my fridge or trimming my hedge, or writing a blog post: I’m ordering myself, preparing for “next.” When I do the physical chores, or have a burst of creativity that allows me to write, I’m clearing my thoughts, centering myself. I’m rising, like the Alaska sun in the early morning, eager to begin my parade of adventures, wherever they take me.