South for the...summer

SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Summer reading  



July 30, 2018
Monday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - There’s a single hammer pounding on a roof around the cove. Every couple of hours a plane banks and lines up for final approach into the Klawock airport. The lone hemlock that stands in front of the yard sways with dignity unlike the alders and their dry leaves that are noisy in the wind. 

jpg Jeff Lund 

There are eagles. Of the few clouds, there’s one that looks like a grayling. Another that’s an elk hair caddis and then there are thin, white ones that aren’t much of anything except for what they are supposed to be. 

This is why I find it hard to read during the summer. Too many simple distractions. 

A few nights ago, around a campfire in which everything from proper sticks for S’mores to the importance of historical context when reading literature was discussed, I admitted my problem with reading. 

I said I couldn’t, not during summer. 

It abruptly stopped the fluid conversation I was having with the most avid reader at the campfire, one who has one of my favorite books, The River Why in her top 5. 
She was confused, incredulous, something. She tilted her head, her face, lit up by the coals and warm flame of the campfire, was somewhere between confused and disappointed.  

“But what if there’s a really good story?”

I stood my sandy ground, knowing she was right. 

The next afternoon I took my place in a deck chair, armed with a collection of some of the best outdoor writing of last century according to Field and Stream magazine. 

Low tide revealed a beach peppered with golf balls. It makes sense, because when you are getting ten golf balls tossed one every two seconds, it’s hard to maintain any consistency. If someone manages a streak, the awkwardly fluid movements are comical. Throw in a whiff and you’ve got a 26-second video that is impossible to watch with a straight face. Scott receiving the rapid-fire tosses from me, while Troy’s chuckle becomes a belly laugh that Ron, Brian and Chris readily join. They left two weeks ago, but have distracted me from the pages.  

Maybe I read more than I think because 5-10 pages between distractions isn’t much, but that can equate to a full story of Russell Chatham fishing the San Francisco Bay at midnight for stripers in the 1970s or Ed Zern meeting a friend of his father’s so sadly eroded mentally, that the man thought Zern was his father, and spoke to him as such. 

After reading that one I couldn’t help but think what will be saved in my memory card from this summer, and what might be sacrificed since there’s only so much space on the hard drive. What I do know with certainty is that it’s been an all-time summer that has passed with all-time speed. 

Summers go far too fast and only accelerate the more you cook fajitas on jet boil stoves next to lakes with coolers of fish on ice in the truck bed behind you. The calendar loses its days carelessly the more you wake up at 4 a.m. to catch the tide, row up river to the best trout spot you know of and catch salmon on 6-weight fly rods, drive an extra 15 miles to get a burger in a town without cell phone reception or see people catch their first ever salmon. 

Any little relic can trigger a memory and take me from the words of Chatham, Nick Lyons or other greats. 

Then, there are the people who bring weight to all of those experiences. People I’ve known since I was a kid, since I lived in California, since I moved back, or since a week ago. They might remember the moments and recall them a little differently, but that’s not the point. 

What is the point is that all of those things conspire against me sitting down to read for a prolonged period of time. 

That’s why I can’t…well, I find it difficult, to read a lot during the summer.  

It’s a poor excuse, yet perfectly reasonable at the same time.  




Jeff Lund ©2018
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @alaskalund

Contact Jeff at Email –


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