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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Century or Centuries (02/17/11)

TITLE: Silver-Scaled Summers
By LaRae Lacrosse
02/23/11


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A small girl sits with her mother on a bench overlooking the mud-brown waters at the mouth of the Egegik River. It is fishing season and they are watching a string of double-ended sailboats being towed to the fishing grounds by a small diesel-powered vessel that the mother tells her is called a “monkey-boat”. The girl imagines that the snaking line of boats, sails furled and masts reaching skyward, is a sea-serpent winding its way to the open waters of Bristol Bay in search of sea-treasures to fill its hungry belly - spotted seals, playful white Belugas, great flat halibut with eyes all on one side, and endless schools of silver-scaled salmon, the real treasure, the one the fishermen are seeking.

The sun is warm, but a soft breeze cools the air and gathers a myriad of sounds and scents. Laughter from the boatmen, the low thrum of the monkey-boat’s motor, shouts of dockworkers carried over the water from the village across the river, the melancholy song of seagulls wheeling overhead, the briny smell of fish-heavy saltwater, clean, fresh, mossy tundra, the utterly wild scent of distant lakes and mountains and glaciers.

“What will we do today, Mama?”

“Well... I think perhaps we will throw a scrap of net in the water and see if we can catch some fish of our own for canning. What do you think of that?”

“Yay!” The girl dances an excited little twirl and thinks about the day ahead. She loves the prospect of helping Mama with fishing chores, loves the feel of the mud beneath her rubber boots and the sucking sound her steps make in it, loves watching the muddy water swirling around her ankles, loves watching the salmon hit the net with a great splashing, their silver sides flashing in the sunlight. She loves the later tasks of pulling the net to the beach, plucking the fish out, carrying them by their gills - one at a time for her, Mama can carry two or three in each hand! She loves scrubbing their scales off with a brush and giving them a rinse so Mama can cut them into filets and then chunks, just the right size. She loves packing the pieces of bright red meat into clean, hot jars, ready to be loaded into the canner. Mostly, she loves the feeling of importance she has at the end of the day, how her helping matters, that in the long winter to come they will open the jars that are now cooling on dishtowels and her family will eat the fish that she helped catch and clean and cook.

The day is closing, the sun beginning its lazy descent to bed. The girl sits on the bench with her mother, watching the fishermen home. She curls like a snail into the shell of Mama’s embrace and thinks how lucky she is and how she hopes life will always be this way...

But, time goes steadily on, as time does. Seasons change, children grow, the world spins through years, decades... a century?

A small girl sits with her mother on a bench overlooking the mud-brown waters at the mouth of the Egegik River. It is fishing season and they are watching the boats heading out to the fishing grounds on the open waters of Bristol Bay. They are seeking treasure - great schools of silver-scaled sockeye salmon to fill the hungry bellies of their boats.

The sun is warm overhead, but a soft breeze cools the air, carrying a myriad of sounds and scents. Laughter from the boatmen, the low rumble of diesel engines, the angry-hornet whine of outboard motors, the chatter of generators powering the village across the river, the melancholy song of seagulls wheeling overhead, the briny smell of fish-heavy waters, clean, fresh, mossy tundra, the utterly wild scent of distant lakes and mountains and glaciers.

“What will we do today, Mama?”

“Well... I think perhaps we will throw out a scrap of net and see if we can catch some fish of our own for canning. What do you think of that?”

“Yay!” The girl dances and excited little twirl and thinks about the day ahead...


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This article has been read 157 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Bowden02/25/11
What a wonderfully scripted story. I felt like I was right there alongside the girl and the mother.

Well done.
Joanne Sher 02/27/11
Beautiful, poetic language, and such a sense of place. A lovely piece.
diana kay03/01/11
i love this :-) i would have liked the little girl to have a name rather than just be generic... she was special enough!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/03/11
This is a sweet tale between mother and daughter. Congratulations on ranking 6th in level 1!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/03/11
This is a sweet tale between mother and daughter. Congratulations on ranking 6th in level 1!