I like the idea of the AK Voices blog endeavor by the ADN. However, I’m starting to feel like I’m in a competition. Kevin Clarkson is the winner hands down for most pieces published but he’s starting to become predictable. I’m trying to avoid doing so, but eventually I’ll probably fall into the same trap. Still, I’m feeling inadequate with my literary output over the past couple weeks.
So much time has been devoted over most of the Alaska bloggers postings (AK Voices and others) recently over what I like to call the “how dare anyone challenge the mighty-Prevo ordinance” that lending my opinion on that topic now seems like unnecessary folly.
The unpleasant showing of Alaskan intolerance that I didn’t figure ran so deep with some Christians here combined with the fact that salmon are running on the Kenai made it hard to concentrate on what to opine here on AK Voices.
Low and behold a day on the upper Kenai soothed the soul, restored my faith in many of my fellow Alaskans, and spurred me to write.
I’ve got a little chunk of paradise in Cooper Landing. At present it has a small portable structure on it a few of my neighbors call a shack, as in “oh yeah, you’re the one with the little shack on the corner lot.” I’m sure they don’t mean it negatively... I think. I prefer to call it my fishing cabin. The other seven lots on my cul-de-sac have real houses, and the neighbors encouragingly ask when we’re going to start building.
After last weekend’s experience on the Kenai I’m more encouraged to get started.
I’ve got a young man working for me this summer on a grant from the AFL-CIO. His fiance is a school teacher from Indiana. This was their first time on an Alaska river, and the first time they’d ever faced the prospect of catching something bigger than a crappie. We put my drift boat in at the Sportsman’s Landing launch just above the Russian River ferry crossing and rowed over to the island just upstream from the ferry landing.
When I got out of the boat my Cooper Landing next door neighbor was there. He just finished building his house last fall. He introduced me to a couple other Cooper Landing residents, recently relocated from the greater Anchorage bowl area. Pleasantries, hand-shaking, and back-slapping all around ensued. “Oh, the guy with the little shack,” one started. “Yeah-yeah,” I abruptly retorted.
Pretty soon I was instructing my guests on sockeye snagging techniques. I hooked one on my first cast. One neighbor offered his net because naturally I had forgotten mine. A little bit later another of my newly acquainted neighbors let me rummage through his fanny pack for some stronger leader material, and offered weights or flies if I needed extra. He wasn't wearing his fanny pack at the time. Not that there would have been anything wrong with that. Another offered to help me or loan me anything I might need for working on my cabin or lot. My next door neighbor offered his house for showering for me and my guests when we finished the drift because he knows I have no running water. Well, at least I temp-wired his well pump so he could have running water when he was building.
When my guest landed her first sockeye salmon ever, after losing or busting off several, the neighbors all cheered and clapped wildly for her. And they were sincere. Her smile was as wide as the big river.
With their limits soon in hand, my neighbors pulled anchor and drifted off smiling and waving. The offers of help and kindness reminded me of what drew me to so many Alaskan kindred spirits when I arrived here twenty years ago.
The week before this trip I took my seventeen year-old daughter to the Anchorage assembly meeting on the first night of testimony on AO64 so she could observe and take notes for a government class. She had never been to an assembly meeting and was visibly shaken by the outward vitriol on display outside.
She needed the signature of a municipal official to verify she had been there. There was no getting into the main chamber that night, so I got Governor Knowles and Rev. Alonzo Patterson to verify she’d been there. They are two of the more gentle spirits in Anchorage, who can show respect on different sides of the issue, who I’ve come to appreciate.
The thing that struck me most is all of the Christians (and incidentally I am one) who rationalized their opposition argument by using the Old Testament, but seemed to ignore Christ’s actual New Testament message of compassion.
And while I have no idea what my Cooper Landing neighbors might think of AO64, I’m certain they’d be more civil about the discussion than Prevo’s horde.