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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They’re back

MS Volendam docked in Ketchikan, Alaska, Unite...

Summer begins in Ketchikan

I saw the first cruise ship of the season Sunday. I looked out my front windows and saw a huge boat slowly and surely making its way toward the downtown docking berths of Ketchikan. The morning was sunny, inviting, fortunate. Booking a cruise to Alaska in the shoulder season (first or last of the cruise season months) can be risky. Passengers may experience the beauty of May or the chill of a late spring storm. Raincoats and jackets are sure to be required before the trip is done.

But that’s all from the passenger’s point of view. I’m a local, at least for a while longer. Until the house sells, I have a place in this community. Passengers can look into my front room windows with binoculars…the view is that good, that close, as the ships move slowly, majestically, toward the docks.

The ships bring tourists, tourists bring money, money brings jobs, jobs bring a bounce to the local economy. It’s heartening to see the downtown come back to life. Many of the businesses shut down in the winter months, only a few locally owned stores stay open through the off season. But everywhere in the past few weeks, I’ve seen fresh paint, new flowers, construction, the signs of rejuvenation.

Come up and visit if you’re looking for a little easy adventure. The Inside Passage is beautiful, the communities along the route are eager to entertain guests, and the weather is turning. The welcome signs are out and we’re ready for business.

May!

A cruise ship in San Deigo Bay, August 15 2004

May 1st…not the first day of summer on the calendar, but I can’t associate the month of May with chilly spring weather. It may be like that in reality, but in my head, May is about sunshine and the first summer clothes of the season. It’s the month I cannot bring myself to wear the heavier layers of winter any more, whatever the temperature may be when I’m dressing. I’ve sent my wool coat to the cleaners, and I’ll freeze before I take it out of it’s plastic bag this side of October.

I have the first daffodil in my flower bed. The green shoots have been up for a while, but now I have one yellow flower to greet me. The first cruise ship of the season will dock on May 8, and I look forward to seeing the huge festive ships in front of my windows again. The downtown merchants have tidied up and spruced up after the winter season, in preparation for the thousands of cruise ship passengers that will be in port on a daily basis for the next several months.

Mornings in SE Alaska are brisk in spring. But there is a lovely anticipation of warmth, and I know that soon, I’ll walk outside without the familiar feeling of bracing myself against the cold.

Welcome, May! Bring on the summer!