An evening walk in Unalaska.

Sometimes  a suggestion turns into a most enjoyable event.  Mom popped in after dinner and asked if I wanted to go for a walk.  I had just finished the first step in making sea salt caramels and was feeling not so enthusiastic.   But I caved, changed my shoes, and grabbed my camera.  And off we went – Dad, Mom, Diane, and me.  It was fabulously gorgeous. 

Sam and Diane Svarny beginning a walk on the front beach, Unalaska.

Under Jim Dickson’s oversight, the City of Unalaska Road Crew has done an awesome job in reclaiming the vegetation on the beach road.  They have been true to the environment and used indigenous plant species. 

Walking around the neighborhood gives you a chance to snoop at everything your neighbors are doing – but in such a nice, unobtrusive way!  We see the progress being made on Zoya’s home renovation. 

And it looks like Coe and Phyllis have completed painting their little bit of suburban America!!  Lots of work involved here. 

I sure wish they would reopen Unalaska Building Supply!!

Looking up the valley at Unalaska Lake, we talked about the silt buildup causing the lake to give way to grasses, and yes, eventually land.  Not a good problem to have, as it impacts the species depending on the water environment for their cycle of life. 

I can't believe I snapped 120 pictures on our walk!

The flowers have been keeping the bees busy.  I just hope they had enough time to buzz around in the cranberry bushes this spring, doing their thing. 

I'm not even going to talk about how fast the fireweed is blooming.

The pink salmon in the creek are quite numerous.  Now that I am older and wiser and a fish snob, I get my humpies before they have hit fresh water and are still nice and bright.  I remember as a kid, running through the creek, throwing fish out onto the bank for my grandmother.  Obviously, no fin and feather back then!! 

Iliuliuk River, or Town Creek, during spawning season.
Spawn til you die....always such a gross saying, but true.

Approaching home, we probably walked about a mile and a half, which is a long way to meander, let me tell you!  Especially for Dad. 

Mom's and Dad's house in yellow; ours is the blue one right behind.

Dry fish has been a staple of indigenous people in Alaska since time immemorial.  We have a small batch of pinks drying. 

The 2 slabs of fish are actually silver salmon that mom is making into lox.

It was a great walk, and I’m glad I am so easily persuaded.

Articulation.

The Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska hosts a traditional culture camp in Unalaska.    Camp Qungaayux^ is designed to bring Unangan Elders, Mentors, and Western science biologists together with the younger generation in order to teach both Traditional Knowledge practices and Western Science principles which encourages cultural and environmental awareness.  

So in 2003, I talked Caleb into helping his brother teach the kids how to construct model kayaks. 

2003

In 2004, I talked Caleb into working with his brother Mike, in teaching the kids how to construct a full-size iqyax^, or skinboat.  His brother couldn’t make it so Caleb ended up teaching by himself. 

2004

In 2005, Caleb taught the kids how to cover a full size iqyax^ by actually covering the one built the year before. 

2005
2005

In 2006, Caleb, with HIS mentor Lee Post, taught the kids how to articulate a Baird’s beaked whale. 

2006

In 2007, 2008, and 2009 Caleb taught the kids how to construct traditional drums. 

2007-2009

2007 was actually the last year I coordinated camp, so I don’t think that the Tribe knows what a jewel they have with Caleb.  The secret to Caleb is that he had never taught a class before 2003.  He had never made a model kayak.  He had never constructed a full size kayak.  He had never covered a skinboat.  He had never thought of articulating, let alone articulated, a whale.  He had never constructed a drum.  The secret to Caleb is presenting him with a problem and giving him the time to explore it and solve it.

So when the Tribe asked Caleb to teach at Camp again this year, and they asked him to do drums again, I said, “Drums?  Again?”  And Caleb’s other cohort who first suggested the whale articulation, Reid Brewer, reminded Caleb that they had the sealion bones from two years ago…… 

2010

….and the deal was sealed.  So, I am going to try to follow Caleb along in this project.  Not by being intrusive and all in his face with the camera and questions, but by using the photos he takes himself, and listening to him when he comes home lamenting his woes.  Hmmmmmm, I see he forgot the camera today.

Ah, spring!

I can say it out loud now.  Spring.  Spring.  Spring!  Indigenous plants are sprouting.  I stepped outside my door to listen to the Lapland Longspurs trilling away.  Male and female, doing the little mating flirtation.  The fog was coming down, and I could tell that a nice drizzle was going to start shortly.  I walked across the lawn, following the birdsong.  A juvenile bald eagle, perched on the light pole next to Mom’s and Dad’s house, ruffled his feathers and for some unknown reason decided to fly to perch on my roof right above my door.  Then he hopped-flew to the little shed 10 feet away.  Well – talons up close are a bit frightening, so I decided to walk across the street to the beach, hoping that he would be gone in a few minutes.  Low tide.  Thinking of the red salmon soon to grace our waters.  I turned back toward the driveway and barely ducked fast enough to evade the adult dive bombing the juvenile with talons extended.  Criminy!  I had to go from fence, to boat, ducking for safety each time that damn eagle would dive.  About 20 feet from the door, I noticed that there was another adult eagle sitting between the little shed outside my door and Mom’s house.  Just sitting there all eagle-eyed in the grass.  Pitter patter goes my heart.  Then another juvenile joined the fray.  Now didn’t I feel just a little ridiculous making a beeline for my front door as if the gates of hell were opening behind me.  Yes, ah spring.