Monday, April 25, 2005

Salmonberries, Blueberries and Thwarted Coyness

The sun is up! It was already up, when I got up at 6 a.m., made a cup of tea, grabbed the newspaper and set myself up outside at the picnic table while Puck frolicked about. It was so up and bright, in fact, and the sky was so blue with the air being crisp with more than a nuance of warmth, that I pulled my bike out of the winter shed in the back and biked to work. At lunch, I even walked down to Mike's Gourmet Dogs. He wasn't there today. But the walk was beautiful. So many people about. Everyone was smiling.

It's over 60 degrees.


I've decided that it is simply irrational, poor form, perhaps a little pathetic, to keep waiting until I get to live on the same land mass as J, as this long-distance arrangement appears destined to outlast its hoped expiration. So I've got to get some gumption now and start picking berries on my own. Salmonberries. Blueberries. Maybe pick some fireweed and attempt a mead. Yes - I know that the sun is just back, so the berries aren't ready for picking yet. I even know it's going to be awhile yet. But since the sun started returning, I've traded in the daily dose of bacon for the daily devouring of Euell Gibbon's Stalking the Wild Asparagus , a chapter a night, and now I am quite enthusiastically planning on picking and foraging enough this summer not just to bake pies, but to send family and friends bottles of jams, syrups, even pickles.........

Truth is, though, I'm scared of the bears.

This weekend I told J. that I might be a little jealous that he goes traipsing about this fine state, and I'm only traipsing when he gears me up and guides me I told him I'm going to make new trail buddies so that I don't have to depend on him. He said that sounded like fun.

It's really quite frustrating to try and make the even-keeled jealous.

Then, perhaps trying to be coy, I lamented that I didn't know anyone with a dog I trusted to defend me from the bears like I trust his dog.

He said he'd put his faith in Puck.

I'm not going to back-talk Puck's manly ferociousness. He is quite the man, you know - especially now that he's on his million-dollar-a-month fish & potato diet

(with his good-boy-treats being pieces of dried salmon - indeed, his larder could outfit a Manhattan delicatassen, that Alaskan Puck),

and is therefore sprouting hair on his belly again, as well as lush tufts of blondeness on either side of his nose that curl up like a well-coiffed mustache. But I could hear the suppressed guffaw in J's voice. It wasn't rude. It wasn't obvious. It was just a fine performance of understated subtley. I decided that, strategically, I was best off not responding to that.

Maybe I will take Puck. I mean, what's the other option? Admittedly, I'm petrified of getting eaten by a bear because I take a blueberry that he considers to be his own. But I was independent before I came out here, and an illogical and irrational fear

(well, not completely illogical or irrational as such day-to-day activities as dog walking and jogging have all lead to several bear attacks since I started reading the Anchorage Daily News on a daily basis)

shouldn't prevent me from traipsing about this fine state and picking berries. Especially because I have such fine plans for the pies that I want to bake with those berries. My current plan is to buy a firepit and spend a fine summer really making use of my collection of cast iron, by teaching myself the ins and outs and nuances of baking pies and breads and grilling fish and fruits over an open fire. No mere grills for me! I'm enthusiastically embracing the potential of a fire pit. (Of course, it's a fire pit with a copper sheen, and really quite stunning, and I've been eyeing it ever since I went to a birthday party last summer that was lit up with several of them all placed rather strategically to keep the mosquitoes away from the feasting table which boasted of a veritable parade of platters of grilled salmon and halibut and scallops, all caught and prepared by the various partygoers pursuant to their various secret family recipes.)

Oh! This sun and its fine inspirations!

I can already see the cobbler that will be stewing in the cast iron dutch oven!


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