We walked along the trail and read each marker describing the traditional Native uses for the plants of the Kodiak Archipelago. It was both interesting and informative to learn that plants could be used not only for food and medicinal purposes but also for utilitarian uses – some plants produced pigments for dying while other plants or grasses could be used for basket weaving. We were successful in locating all of the plants described in the markers. Guy was right. This was the perfect time of year for a plant stroll.
In between the markers we saw a variety of wildflowers and worked together to identify them. We considered the leaves, size, growing conditions, and flower shape and color. “You know” I offered “we should take that class about surviving on native plants. I believe they are offering it again this fall at Kodiak College”. Kodiak College is a two-year campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. “I think it would be interesting. I’ve known, and eaten at the table of, friends who have taken the course. I ate sautéed nettles. They were pretty good and packed with nutrition”.
Guy gave me a big grin and said “That sounds like a great idea. We’ll have to see the college schedule and compare it against the fishing openers”. Reality set in. If I was going to have an ongoing relationship with Guy, there would be periods of time he would be out for weeks. “But for now, I think I should get you home. The wind is starting to pick up again and the temperature is dropping”.
On the way home, I was thinking that I wished he would mention seeing each other again. I just wasn’t sure of his level of interest and didn’t want to ask him out only to be rejected. I thought perhaps another outdoor activity would be a safe approach and I teased him about taking me out fishing.
“We can do that” he said “but I have to get my skiff in order because we can’t go sport fishing off my commercial boat”.
“You can’t? Why not if it is your boat?” I asked
“Because it is against regulations. I guess it is to keep people honest and by separating them there can be no question of commercial fishing outside of the season.”
“I’ll make you a deal – we catch a red salmon and I will make you Pirog” I teased. Pirog is a popular local dish of Russian decent. It is a salmon, lasagna sized, with a pastry crust, a layer of rice, sautéed onions and cabbage, and salmon filets. It’s closed with a top crust and baked about an hour in a medium heat oven. Some people add chopped up hard-boiled eggs in their Pirog. Either way, it’s a great dish for a potluck.
“That’s a deal” he responded “but catching a sockeye is best done with a gill net. Are you up to it?”
I had to think about that for a minute. “Can we try hook and line first then go to gill nets if we don’t catch any sockeye?”
“Sure. I will get my skiff ready for later in the week. I promised to take Aunt Cecil out in the next day or two. The weather is supposed to be good and she wants to take in the shoreline while she is still feeling up to it”. That was his first mention of his ailing aunt and I was having such a good time that I hadn’t even noticed that he kept that unhappy conversation off the agenda tonight. I felt guilty about it for a minute but then rationalized that perhaps he needed a break from her illness as well.
I worked up my courage and when we pulled into my driveway I invited him in. Hey, what the worst that can happen? As I was thinking the answer was that he could say no, he said “Yes. I believe your Daisey was smitten with me and would be hurt if I did not come in at least to bid her a goodnight”. I laughed and enjoyed the thought that he might like my dogs. Not all dates can appreciate small dogs. It wasn’t uncommon for men to make comments that my rat terriers were not dogs and explain that labs or retrievers are “real” dogs.
While he was admiring the dusky view out my picture window, I lit the strategically placed candles and started a pot of coffee. We took the dogs into the back yard for relief and a romp before settling on the sofa with our mugs. I opened the conversation by telling Guy about my dinner plans for tomorrow night. “It’s called dark dining” I explained.
“That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard” he commented.
“I understand it was started by a blind man who wanted his sighted friends to share his dining experience. I was also told that it is harder than you think to recognize what you are eating if you cannot see it. That was surprising to me since it seems like taste”……my rant was interrupted by a kiss. A very long, warm, and moist kiss. When it was over, I reciprocated.
The romance ice was broken. Finally.