July

Remember just a few weeks ago when we said bon voyage to the fishermen as they headed out to the fishing grounds? Here we are on July 10th and the season has come and now it goes. Just a day after my last post, the salmon hit the rivers with a mighty force and we’ve all been working like mad 14, 16, 20 hours a day to harvest them. The run was predicted at 26.5 million and we’re at 34 million now and though we are definitely on the ebb side of the season, we’re still fishing and the run is going to surpass predictions by quite a bit. We’ve had many small and big dramas, emergencies, tears, laughter, boredom, rain, mosquitoes, hissy fits, and lots and lots of coffee… and green tea on my part.

I haven’t had time to write much but I wrote this last year around this time of the season, so it will have to speak for this season as well…

The salmon are returning to the rivers from the Bering Sea and we return with them. Soon, the silver flash bang of the salmon run will begin to stretch us all thin – the sunlight, endless, days long under the Northern summer sun, so that each blurs into the next, the mindless insistent pulse of the salmon taking us over too – we run and push and pull and go go go – it is time it is time it is time. There is no time. There is nothing but time – the clock ticks 24 hours without darkness and we sleep where we fall, in boots and sunglasses, snatching precious moments from the flood of scale and fin. They are answering a call louder than comfort and ease and we must answer it too. Cheekbones honed sharp and eyes bright with exhaustion and adrenaline, our bodies made into quivering channels for a life force that is too great for them to hold and maybe not really ours to carry. We are carved down to nothing and yet in the bearing down we are made into everything – as the flow of the river carves canyon from mountain – an emptiness that is full in its purpose. The gill flutter tide force carving us out, making us more and less human, replacing our blood with saltwater.

towards the mouth of the Naknek river at sunset, midnight on the 4th of July
towards the mouth of the Naknek river at sunset, midnight on the 4th of July
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One thought on “July”

  1. The house in your n from July 4, 2014 is my grandfather and grandmother’s house. It was built over a hundred years ago and, because of bank erosion, is getting closer and closer to falling over the edge. My grandparents had 25 children between them and most were raised in that house. I can send you an early photo of the house if you are interested.

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