Yetis and U-turns

Yetis and U-turns

It’s been a while.

I’ve been known to take these month-long creative breaks. It is something I want to change. Writing a blog post at the moment is almost like pregnancy AND childbirth in one to me. I feel a lot more comfortable with something less laborious, and that’s something to try out soon.

One reason for my blogosphere silence is usually just life happening: work, moving, processing what propelled me to move, observing how I feel in my new house with new roommates, and how far out of my comfort zone I’m stretching with this. Things germinate slowly with me, so have the delightful, creative chaos that made me wonder why I ever wanted to live alone, ever, and on the opposite end of the experience the arbitrariness of it all, where just one thing changes that tips the scale. But that’s a whole other story to be told on a different day.

The other reason for is something that some of you might be very familiar with: I decide it’s about time for a new post, but there are five things cooking simultaneously on my mind-heart stove, and I simply can’t decide which one to pick. My resistance grows as I notice -especially right around the holidays and all through the beginning of a new year – the virtual world exploding with posts, stories, ads, more articles, more ads. Tired before my morning tea, I dig myself out of the avalanche of “best-ever-stories” I’ve been consuming for almost an hour. There is really no reason for me to add to the mess of blessings. So I just keep notes, a lot of them.

My motto is still “Upgrade to Simple” – less is more, minimalism rules, but at the same time I love sharing what inspires me. So I’ll try to bring my notes to life (and make space on my phone in the process), but I also decided to pick two to three newsletters a month that I’ll actually read.

Today, I made time to read one by a fellow coach and fellow-Olympian, wellness-coach Shelly Haas, who wrote about self-inquiry this week.

Like many introverts who present as extroverts in their professional life, I love my solitude to recharge, and I best do it on hikes, long drives, and meals by myself. Inspired by the question, “what needs attention?”, I packed some water and apples, the good camera, and set out on a journey of self-inquiry and Olympic discovery.

I am learning – I’m not fond of rain every day. I enjoy fog and the ambience it brings, I love snow and miss it something fierce right now, and I have love for rain in corners of my heart, but just like beets, it’s good and necessary, but I don’t want it every day.

I figured since I found some snow in Mt Rainier yesterday and spent almost two hours hiking through pouring rain, I’ll try sandy beaches in today’s precipitation. Off to Ocean Shores, but then my iPod was making funny noises and I got distracted and forgot to drive straight on the 8 and took a right to Shelton instead.

I get disgruntled for a minute. My phone tells me there’s a U-turn in a mile and a half, but then there isn’t, so I’m even more grumpy, and then, as the next U-turn shows up, so does the sun and blue skies and mountain views (!) right ahead, so I give the U-turn the finger and move straight ahead.

I used up my high speed data and 128 kbps are to maps what years are to light, so I decided to wing it and follow the sunshine intuitively.

One turn led to another, and I ended up at Lake Cushman. Just as I was appealing to the gods of pull-outs “why on earth would you not put a viewpoint alongside such a gorgeous lake?”, I passed a large viewing area. U-turns were a thing today. Waterfalls adorn the road, and the further back I drive, the greener the water becomes. Hemlock, fir and cedar trees line the the banks of the lake. The water levels seem remarkably low after all the rains we’ve had, and I wonder if this area is sheltered and gets less precipitation after all. We’re in the off season, so the port-a-potties are clean and smell flowery. There are a number of staircases built for easy lake access. Giant tree stumps stand in clans with smaller ones, heavy boulders here and there, and I am having a joyfully unique walking experience altogether. It is warm, 10C, balmy, a promise of spring that I reject – in my home state Alaska, February marks the coldest month of the year with a couple of guaranteed weeks of bitterness around -30F…

As usual, I’m roaming the area until long after sun down. I take my time driving back, enjoying the soft pink sunset triangle in between mountains above the lake, and it seems only a minute until I am in Hoodsport, getting hungry. Hunger comes and goes, I’ll be fine until home; I could grab some bibimbap at Trader Joe’s, or … what?! “King Salmon Dinner w/Clam Chowder & Salad $9.95”.

Another U-turn.

At home, King Salmon is even expensive when you catch it yourself (gas, king tag, etc.). This is either not salmon, or … well, let’s not judge, I tell myself, let’s have a look and a conversation.

As I am standing outside the order window, a chicken approaches me to say hello. It looks a bit grimy, but friendly, and parks itself right next to my feet. I order the King Salmon dinner and sit down in an open annex to the kitchen. I am the only guest, two to-go orders have been picked up, and a young man brings out a large tray with a very large plate and bowl. The salmon tastes amazing. It’s moist and light, absolutely fresh and delicious. Half the plate is covered with fresh, crisp romaine lettuce and a light ranch dressing, and a home-made biscuit. When the young man, whose name is Bruce, asks how everything tastes, I ask him to nuke the soup, as it is a bit too cold for my taste. Within a couple of minutes, Bruce brings a whole new full bowl of soup. No nuking here – he just scooped from a fresh batch of soup.

We start talking – about the salmon he serves, and his food in general. Everything that can be homemade is prepared right here in the kitchen. That includes breakfast (did I hear him say “all day” or was that wishful listening?) with his grandma’s homemade sweet-potato pancakes, and their homemade ice cream. The chowder was one of the best I’ve had in the state, and I’ve had them up and down the peninsula all the way down to Long Beach, and then on the East Coast and in Alaska – Kelsey’s tonight was top tier. The eatery is named after Bruce’s mom, and is a true family business – all fresh, organic, homemade, with family recipes that go back 50 years.

I’m getting used to questions about Alaska, and almost everyone I talk to has a connection to my state. Bruce knew the Kenai Peninsula, and he proudly shared that he picks up his fresh Alaskan salmon and lingcod every morning at 4:30 at the airport in Seattle. His connection to the Kenai includes a story of loss, friendship, and, over some unexpected turns, he talks about his chickens. He keeps 12 on his property and their eggs supply him with enough for his daily recipes – business involves even the feathered family.

“Meet Yeti, the silkie by your feet,” Bruce introduces me to my rather quiet dinner companion. “Yeti is 18 years old.” The Silkie Yeti has certainly seen fluffier days, but clucks approvingly, and looks at me knowing full well that I will not share my food. He shall hang out anyway, this is his place after all, not mine.

Yeti connects us to another story of friendship, cross-generational, full of respect and ingenious collaboration, and more loss, and love, and family, and survival, and age, hippies, and stubbornness maybe, as he takes another to-go order.

“So where are you from originally?” He laughs when I tell him Germany, and we talk travel and touring and how #45 and his nonsense is impacting my Alaska tours with guests from overseas.

Bruce packs a to go cup with ice cream for me. Huckleberry cream-cheese, cold deliciousness for the way home. His business has been going great, even in the winter months, and he speaks with joy and excitement about what they have changed to make it more practical, healthy, and more successful. I almost want to come back tomorrow for breakfast, but no need to be excessive, not even if it is to find out more about how they made Kelsey’s flourish within 2 years. But I will, some day this year, before the summer madness.

So this is today’s story.

I know, I know. I could’ve just said “hey, there’s a cool eatery in Hoodsport, right on the road, that has King Salmon dinners for less than 10 bucks, plus it’s all organic and they have chickens that talk to you and lay the eggs for your pancakes”, but I can still do that, in a tweet or two.

This was really more about self-inquiry. Remember Shelly’s question?

What needs attention?

My resistance is a great thing to look at. Where do I turn away instead of toward? And when I turn toward, what is the real reason I seek this? Wherever we experience push and pull, those places are worth paying attention to, on the inside. And I resist where I see profit over people. I lean in when it looks like people over profit, and then connection, sustainability, and balance.

On the outside: Bruce’s lovely family business needs and deserves attention. Their commitment to serve needs attention. Their reverence for family history deserves attention. His big-picture sustainable, whole-hearted, wholesome foods business also does. And the love he doesn’t spell out, but that is so obviously there, for people who are real, who fight an honest fight, who love and live by their own rules, who do no harm, who rescue animals, who light up the lives of others. There is a lot of story here, and that deserves attention.

I feel an urgency when it comes to people’s stories. Here is a simple place that serves good wholesome food with real dishes and silverware, and it is economical and healthy and sustainable, and people oriented.

The riches here deserve attention. It’s not about the money, people. It’s about you, about us.

To serve, and to nourish.

Happy day, Lovelies!

Ki Woyke

Published February 4th, 2018
by Ki Woyke