Watching the garbage truck’s mechanized arms grab and raise my fully loaded plastic garbage can off the street, hungrily ingesting its contents, I thought about a winter long ago when I was a “swamper” on the back of one of those trucks — a job that like so many jobs in today’s automated world is now obsolete.
After thatching and raking, with a glorious summer of sunshine and repeated rounds of fertilizer, lime and water, with special application of “Weed-Be-Gone” to eliminate invasive culprits, plus frequent mowing and trimming, my lawn still doesn’t look as good as some of my neighbors. But I keep trying.
They’re round and blue, juicy and rather tart — and they’re back — our blueberries that we’ve missed for more than two years!
Quietly, without much fanfare, about four dozen Eagle River area folks are devoting part of their lives to improving the lives of others — not only here in Eagle River — but in far-flung areas across the world.
I used to think that cockroaches and furniture hawker Ted Sadler would be the only creatures left alive after a nuclear holocaust or horrible natural disaster. But I’m beginning to think dogs, those canine friends of ours, might claim that distinction.
Hopping over the gray, weather-rounded boulders and cobbles down to the sandy shore of Portage Lake, we were following an important route of miners and much earlier, Alaska Natives and Russian fur traders. But looking out at the lake and the hulking face of Portage Glacier on its far shore, we knew our view was much different than that of those early pioneers. Instead of a three-mile-long lake, a fjord, the glacier was right in their face — a towering cliff of ice that filled a good portion of the valley to a depth of several hundred feet.
Within the summer season, July is typically the “green” season in Chugach State Park, with the wildflowers at their peak. A hike into South Fork’s Hanging Valley Lake during the first week of July was intended to immerse myself in that short-lived “greening.”
I’ve bivouacked on Bold’s summit twice, been stung be a bee on my right eyelid once while on top; heard deep-pitched humming sounds (comparable to what some call the “Taos Hum”), been buzzed by a raven right at the top and had to carry my dog most of the way back from the mountain because he gave out after summiting.
Correction: In my June 27 column I mentioned dinosaurs roaming around northern Alaska during the last ice age — the Pleistocene. That was too late for dinosaurs by about 65 million years, one observant reader was nice enough to point out. I apologize for the error.
I’m a firm believer in never giving up. But I also believe it’s important to know when to quit. I refer here to a mountain that has captured my attention and imagination for 20 years. It’s 7,522-foot Bold Peak that towers over the south end of Eklutna Lake.