I spent the last week down in Kenai at fish camp. Traditionally, in Alaska, people who lived anywhere near a nice run of salmon would spend the run along the river; camping, fishing, cutting up fish, smoking and preserving for the winter. Kids would help, people would stay up until all hours. Personal use dipnetting on select rivers in Alaska, including the Kenai, approximates this sound way to benefit from the amazing glory of the summer salmon run in our modern times – with the addition of a vehicular migration, some aluminum dip nets, quantities of beer, and other modifications.
In past years I have been able to head down for a day or two, dictated more by work and friend schedules than by the best fishing times. I have generally come home with 5 to 7 fish, which were pretty quickly filleted to be passed among friends and eaten fresh, with a couple of fillets stuck in the freezer for winter.
Salmon is an amazing food source for humans, especially Alaskans. It is local and still fairly abundant. It contains great protein and healthy fatty acids and a 3 oz. serving of salmon has 100% of your RDA of vitamin D – something that I have a hard time getting enough of, especially in the winter. I had previously calculated that 14 average sized fish would just about provide all the winter vit. D needed by my son and myself. My personal use limit for the family was 35. I ended up personally netting 26 fish. Some were small, but all in all a wonderful addition to my food stores, and I am more than thankful to the salmon and all the people who made it possible by providing a place to stay, transportation and expertise, conversation, help with processing, etc, etc.
I canned and froze smoked and fresh salmon, so I have 4 ways to enjoy salmon for the next 12 months.
One of the things I was also looking for from Fish Camp was a release from my normal responsibilities and a bit of social revelry. Although the week entailed more than its share of work (chopping wood for fires in the smoker and hottub, cooking, cleaning, salmon prep, more cleaning, canning, etc), it was definitely a break. I finished a book, I soaked myself daily, I played with my son and got some adult time as my son explored a huge pile of legos. I also reveled socially, and generally had a good time, but I think I’ve reached a limit. As I’ve been discussing with my good friend Zane, life is often spent trying to bring yourself to equilibrium (literally homeostasis) again and again and again as you overshoot. I’ve spent years being (or trying to be) a perfect and responsible mom and friend and partner and adult and citizen of the world. In rebellion, I have spent the last couple of months being a lot less perfect…drinking a bit too much, socializing late – nothing terrible and I don’t think I’ve truly neglected my responsibilities that much, but certainly a bit indulgent. I think I’m done. I’m realizing, yet again in my life, that it isn’t about me in that way. This search for fun takes me away from my search for growth. Sure, fun is hugely important, but I think I benefit best from a quieter fun. To remain effective and helpful as a person I need to quiet my brashness to excitement, temper my stubborn argumentative rightness and look not at how I can protect my vision of a better world and life but how I can cooperate with others to make things better for all. So I’m quieting down again so that I can provide the service I need to provide in this world, and be a good friend and a good mom and good citizen. Life is messy and breaking eggs/omelets/yaddayadda, but I need to find the key to being effective while lifting everyone up. I don’t want to care if people like me or not, but when I touch others’ lives at all, I want to be a positive force. Everyone deserves that.
As an added bonus, I returned to a garden in full swing (pardon the lack of pictures – I need to see if I can get the beach sand removed from the lens mechanism of my brand new camera). Poppies are off the hook, we ate two black currants and numerous strawberries from the garden, and last nights’ garden fresh salad included bok choi, kale, mixed lettuces, cilantro, blue borage flowers, white radish flowers, and strawberries. It was truly a thing of beauty!