17 July 2011

The Last Shower: Bristol Bay Fishing Part 2

The morning comes before I need it to in Alaska, and night comes quite late. Sabbath, from sundown to sundown, runs from something like ten before midnight until the same time the next day. I don't remember exactly. And I don't know how early the sun comes up, but it's quite early. Since the night isn't terribly dark, I simply rely on my body's need for rest and not the darkness to put me to sleep that first night.

My body didn't fail me that night or any night following for as long as I was on the boat.

We all stir and rise--all four of us, these other three experienced fishermen and their inexperienced new arrival, who share these 32 feet one way and 12 feet the other way--and begin preparations for the day. I participate in Bible readings and prayer with various combinations of them at least twice before breakfast, and then realize that, if I am to keep my word and play the piano for church services this morning, I had better eat, shower, dress, and go.

But it's not that simple, and I begin planning my attack:

  1. Eat first. Husband just made breakfast, so take advantage of it.

  2. Collect Bible and purse to take with me to church, along with anything else I need from the boat. (Who wants to come all the way back down to the dock and climb over two other boats to get one little thing when a little efficiency might actually get me to the church on time?)

  3. Go to the van (the one that we drive) with father-in-law so that

  4. he can take me to the locker (which is also known as the van, but we don't drive it because it's just a big trailer that stores things in it all year, even when it's not fishing season). The locker isn't very far away--maybe five- to ten-minutes' walk--but at this point every minute counts. I also need father-in-law along because it's still only my first twenty-four hours out here, and I haven't proven that I can open the locker by myself. Or, more importantly, close and lock it again when I'm done gathering the clothes I would like to wear to church, along with my towel and toiletries for the shower.

  5. Take my shower at the PAF bathroom (this time, we decide the PAF is better for me than the community bath house because it's free and we don't need to grab the sack of quarters).

  6. Ride to church, play the piano. Husband will ride one of the bikes up the {smallish} hill to church when he is finished cleaning up breakfast as well as himself, and I will see him there.

There's only one slight interruption to my brilliant orchestration of the morning: Someone else is in the PAF shower stall when I arrive and need to get into it myself. No matter. I soon realize she is almost done, and as we trade spaces, she slipping out and I slipping in, we strike up a bit of conversation.

It's funny how quickly we have trained ourselves to find commonality between strangers. I don't remember how, but it's not long before we discover it. She's running late to church, too.

Does she need a ride? Well, yes. No, she doesn't recall meeting my family. She's set netting...we're drift. That must be why. No, really, I'll be done sooner than you can walk up the hill, and we'd be happy to give you a ride.

{I don't confess I'm the pianist, and Father-in-law coordinates the whole fishermen's service, so they're not likely to start without us anyway.}

I finish the shower, knowing it will likely be my last until the next Friday. Somehow it seems just like any other shower, but I know it won't be long until I will long for another just like it. Or maybe the next one should be longer. Yes, I think to myself, by this time tomorrow I won't feel like this last shower was long enough, lingered in enough.

We climb in the van, she and I in the back, and continue our common-ground investigation.

What do you do for the rest of the year, when you're not fishing? She a first-grade teacher, I a graduate school student in music.

Where? Oh, really? She must know such-and-such a man, who came and spoke for some events I helped coordinate before I went back to school. She does, and asks if I know her daughter and son-in-law who live in the same small Michigan town I do. I don't, but we determine we know some more people in common from said small town, and that she has connections in the small Washington town I used to live in.

She has been fishing six summers. I have only been in town since yesterday afternoon and I'll try out the fishing part by tomorrow. I wonder what keeps her coming back every year, but before I get a chance to ask, we are at church and I am whisked inside just in time to make arrangements with singer-classmate from college who happens to be fishing this summer to sing special music next Sabbath (perhaps a duet with choir-director husband?), walk to the electric keyboard, eye it suspiciously (that's how I always look at the electronic ones the first time), and begin playing.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you are posting this story online. There are so many more details included, then you mentioned on the phone. But I'm also so glad we got to talk. I bring you greetings from all the friends who were up at J Lake this weekend, who miss you. The Bride and Groom, are glad you are doing ok.


Greetings, fellow climbers! Leave your marks on the steps--I'll be delighted to hear from you.