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Comments Off on Our Town – September 9, 2021

Our Town – September 9, 2021

| Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | September 9, 2021

 The Soupster learns of a bizarre theory.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan

“That you, Fran?” said the Soupster, squinting into the sun as a figure ran towards him.

“Yep, Soupster,” Fran replied. “Good to see you! Enjoying this amazing day?” she asked.

“Sure am!” the Soupster said, as he stood up slowly, hands on his lower back as if to pack the discs back in. “Making the most of the weather before it turns on us. Already the leaves are falling,” he lamented. “Wait, wait, though – there’s something different about you, Fran…can’t quite put my finger on it…”

“Oh, yeah” Fran said, nonchalant. “Probably the effects of my Reverse Training Program,” she declared.

“Your what?”

“Let’s just say I’ve been extra goal-directed lately. Reverse training,” Fran said.

“So, what’s that about?” he asked.

“Well,” said Fran, “it all began a couple of weeks ago, on one of those rare blue days. So much blue that the only thing separating sea and sky was rocky islands and white surf. I was running in the 4K mountain race and didn’t even stop to admire the view. As my feet found their way up the trail, I was struck by how good I felt. And the whole race went like this. Until the end when I crossed the finish line and asked for my time.”

“And?” the Soupster prompted.

“Not good. I’d lost 15 minutes from last year,” she lamented, “which was 10 minutes slower than the one before that.”

“So that explains your false sense of awesomeness?” the Soupster chuckled.

“Eeeexactly,” Fran said. “You go slow enough, and anything can feel easy. That’s when I decided to take action and launch my Reverse Training Program. Basically, that means adjusting your training for an earlier time. Because you are training for an event that has already occurred, your expectations can be more modest,” she said, illogically.

“I see, I guess, ” the Soupster said.  “Just because we can’t turn back time doesn’t mean we can’t cover our tracks — or at least tidy them up. I’ve had similar thoughts. The other day, I saw myself in the library window, looking like a tree leaning a bit too far with the wind. I went in, checked out a book on backs and decided I’ve been walking the wrong way! Who’d have thought there was so much to something we’ve been doing since age one?”

“Are you sure you haven’t just been ducking to keep the rain out of your face?”

“Maybe,” Soupster replied. “Anyway, I’m gliding now, picturing myself as a Tanzanian, maybe, carrying water on top of my head.   Straight spine, shoulder blades back, chin tucked. It’s a lot to think about. I’m surprised I can get anything else done at the same time! But it helps with my vertigo, too.”

“Well, good luck with that,” said Fran.

“And, if I ever do carry a pail of water on my head, I won’t need to fill it at a well,” the Soupster said. “I’ll just walk around Our Town on a rainy day.”

“And I’ll be out there too, shaving minutes off my time in a race that I’ve already run!” Fran laughed.

“Happy reverse training!” the Soupster called out, as Fran turned and began jogging backwards down the path.

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 26, 2021

Our Town – August 26, 2021

| Animals, Covid-19, Downtown, Guest Written, Herring, Nan Metashvili, Our Town | August 26, 2021

The Soupster is bemused.

Submitted by Nan Metashvili

The Soupster gave a little jerk and looked around abashed, as if a small noise had woken him. A slight, um, snore. Had he actually nodded off and snored himself back to consciousness, here in public? Embarrassed, he looked around.

Slightly confused, befuddled, as though waking from a dream. Where was he?

It was so hard to tell these days; the eerie feeling of having Sitka’s normally bustling summer streets empty rather haunted him. And yet the Sitka roses were as usual in full blowzy bloom, St. Michael’s iconic steeple rose over the town center, and the locals in their stalwart brown xtratuffs were going about their business.  Ravens cawed, totem poles overlooked the town square and parks with their stoic faces, as if to say “The cheechakoes are still here? Thinking they could buy our land?”

And then, there was the added peculiar difficulty of trying to recognize your friends. Even your nearest and dearest pals could be mistaken for masked desperados!

Now, look at that kenspeckle one, fresh off the plane. Familiar? So hard to tell. A longlost foreign friend, maybe? Anything goes these days – the pandemic times are such a wonder. But that mask, emblazoned with a foreign flag – rays of blue and red coming from a sun shining over a couple of, what, Snow Lions? Hard to tell.

But you never do know, people come and go and then are gone in a flash. Like an old-time sac roe herring fishery, long awaited, then over before you can count all your 8 fingers. Or not happening at all.

How do you like them knishes?

Nowadays they’re saying it’s not good to scoop up all the silver darlings, stuff about food chains, ecosystems and sustainability. True! True! “The climate crisis is here and I care!” the Soupster said to himself, because at heart he was an intelligent and honest man. He could see what was happening all around him.

Common sense, too bad it ain’t so common, he chuckled to himself. But all that serious stuff started to make him sleepy again. Then, wide awake, because it all made sense.

The Soupster stretched and yawned, and stomped in a puddle, just to prove to himself he was still a kid at heart. He smiled at an overhead eagle and bent to sniff a rose or two. Gotta take time to smell the roses, he always believed.

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 3, 2021

Our Town – June 3, 2021

| Children, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Music, Our Town | June 3, 2021

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 6, 2021

Our Town – May 6, 2021

| Guest Written, Holidays, Lois Verbaan, Mother's Day, Our Town, Seasons, Spring | May 6, 2021

The Soupster appreciates a melding of holidays.

Tulip and daffodil greens poked tentatively out of damp soil, eyeing the Soupster, who relaxed on a bench overlooking the harbor.

Rays of sunshine teased him into a summer’s dream of palm trees and golden beaches in faraway places.

Suddenly, a cold breeze snapped him back to the present, as a large shadow obscured the sun.

“Greetings on this fine morning, Soupster!” a familiar voice rang out. “Amazing weather, huh?”

“Morning!” the Soupster replied cheerily, feigning recognition at the dark silhouette. “How’re you doing?” he asked, stalling for time. The Soupster called it the “30-Second Recognition Rule” in which he allowed 30 seconds before admitting he did not know someone. Any longer and you were trapped forever into pretending you knew each other.

“Dave!” he suddenly blurted. “Yes… a beautiful morning. What brings you out?”

“A memorial stroll between showers” said the other man wistfully.

“Memorial?”

“Well, I’ve dedicated this walk to the memory of the tourists who start turning up and wandering around Our Town at this time of the year,” Dave said.

“I miss the new faces and matching jackets, disposable rain ponchos, and inappropriate fur boots and hats,” he said.

“Yep, the Rona’s been a bummer,” the Soupster said. “But in Our Town we are privileged to be so far ahead of the curve with vaccinations that I feel we’re in a holding pattern, circling until the rest of the world are ready for us to land.”

“Yeah” Dave added. “Have to admit I’ve had a hankering to get off the rock for some time now… Anyway, I’m too busy to leave,” he declared.

“Busy? With what? The Soupster enquired.

“Designing a leprechaun trap,” Dave said.

“What on earth for?” the Soupster asked.

“Well, with St Paddy’s day out of the way, I figure there’re a lot of under-engaged leprechauns looking for a purpose in life,” Dave said.

“What would you do with a leprechaun if you caught one?” the Soupster asked.

“Check its pockets for loose gold. What else?”

“Hmm. Don’t recall anything about trapping in the ‘Recover Your Social Skills in 30 Days’ podcast I’ve been listening to,” the Soupster chuckled.

“Ahh, that’s not all,” Dave added. “Can you think of a more useful or original Mother’s Day gift than a leprechaun?”

“You might be onto something, Dave” the Soupster said. “After all, these little folks are always cheerful, mischievous but hardworking, and have lots of money. What more could a mother want?” he laughed.

“Exactly!” Dave said. “I think leprechauns would sell like Fourth of July fry bread on Our-Town-for-Sale.”

“They’re supposed to be shoemakers. Imagine if we could train them to make Xtra-Tuffs!” the Soupster laughed.

“That would be epic!” Dave agreed.

“Anyway, nice seeing you Soupster, I’d better be off,” he said. “I don’t have long to get this off the ground before someone like Jeff Bezos corks me.”

Adding “I’m Leonard, by the way,” as he strolled off into the sunshine with a spring in his step.

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 8, 2021

Our Town – April 8, 2021

| Animals, Covid-19, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Herring, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | April 8, 2021

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 11, 2021

Our Town – February 11, 2021

| Couples, Elizabeth Peratrovich Day, Guest Written, Holidays, Nan Metashvili, Our Town, Relationships, Valentine's Day | February 11, 2021

The Soupster encounters a mysterious, loving couple.

By Nan Metashvili

Jingling coins in his pocket, with a rose in his heart, the Soupster strolled along Lincoln St., rubbernecking appreciatively.

“Flâneuring in your own town!” he mused, and the friendly smile on his face caused a passing couple to smile back at him.

They all stopped, right there, to exchange names and chat. Maria and Marko were visiting Sitka for the first time and wanted to experience something other than the usual tourist things.

The Soupster agreed, and so to tune in to local life, he suggested they sit on the wall for a while.

“Come summer, these streets will be thronged with people from all corners of the world. The scent of Sitka roses will tickle your nostrils. Halibut cheeks and life-saving chocolate milkshakes will sell like hotcakes. High spirits’ll roll out of the P. Bar like a flock of seagulls gobbling herring eggs in the spring. But in February – ah, February – it’s dark, cold and rainy. Today’s sunshine is not normal.”

Just then, to prove his point, a pouting cloud obscured that improbable sun, so they rose and meandered on.

They admired the Pioneer Home’s grace. When notes of a lively Slavic kolo drifted from Raven Radio, Marko danced a few steps. “Music from my homeland,” he marvelled. His wife placed a loving, ebony-hued hand on his arm, and they danced together along the sidewalk. Their Serbian/Brazilian moves were sensual and heart-warming. “Not bad for octogenarians,” thought the Soupster.

Nearing the ANB Hall, they saw posters announcing festivities for Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.

“Who?” gulped Marko.

“Oh, our famous Alaskan activist. Elizabeth Peratrovich. Ḵaax̲gal.aat. A lionhearted Tlingit woman who refused to accept discrimination and injustice. Who worked and persevered, and in 1945 got an anti-discrimination bill passed in the Alaska territory, long before the rest of the country. Racial hatred and Jim Crow practices had plagued this land, and she bravely stood up for what is right.

“Why,” he chuckled, “you know what she said when the white guy senators referred to natives as ‘savages’? She took ‘em right down.

She said, ‘I would not have expected that I, who am “barely out of savagery” would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights.’”

The trio reflected on the vagaries of human behaviour. Love should be able to conquer all, but sometimes people need to be reminded. To be reminded that hate should have no place in the constitution. As an inter-racial couple, Maria and Marko had faced their share of obstacles. As they rested, admiring the posters, Marko was suddenly weeping.

“From my own war-torn, tumultuous country to this chilly, beautiful land of eagles and ravens, home to this culture, this brave woman…”

He fell silent and the screams of eagles seemed to continue his story.

“My mother. Her maiden name was Peratrovich,” he finally concluded in a whisper.

The Soupster stood there with his hands in his pockets. He no longer jingled the coins. Instead, he withdrew them, and placed them in Marko’s hands.

Shining golden Elizabeth Peratrovitch dollars.

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 17, 2020

Our Town – December 17, 2020

| Christmas, Guest Written, Holidays, Music, Our Town, Rachel Ramsey | December 17, 2020

The Soupster longs for a merry little Christmas

By Rachel Ramsey

“BAGH!” Liz exclaimed, tossing her hands up. Frazzled, she didn’t notice her friend at the other end of the long, fluorescent-lit aisle of Our Town’s hardware store.

“Liz?” the Soupster turned his head, recognizing her voice. “Friend, is that you!?” he asked in surprise.  It was! Though they hadn’t crossed paths in many, many months, they recognized one another’s mask-muffled voices.

“Soupster! Gosh,” she laughed, “How in tarnation are you?” The two friends smiled large beneath their masks, approached nearer, stopping short at 8’ apart (yet feeling as near as ever). They didn’t share a bubble, so they were both giddy at the chance to briefly share an aisle.

Liz’s big eyes brightened, tired though they were. Soupster saw the exhaustion, the strain of months and months of life disrupted.

“Not too shabby, honestly.” he replied, as overhead, the holiday shopping music bellowed out a surreal Kenny-G-meets-Black-Sabbath hybrid version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Feeling Liz’s tender energy and wishing he could give her a hug, the Soupster gently motioned his head upward, “Say, what do you think of this version?” he asked.

“You know, Soupster, this song has always been a holiday favorite of mine, though this one’s a bit much.” she admitted.

“Mine too.” The Soupster agreed. Some-times we ‘hang a shining star upon the highest bough’. Other times we ‘muddle through somehow’ and, occasionally, we do both.” He sighed.

“So true. How many holiday tunes do you know that both acknowledge the melancholy – missing loved ones during the holidays – yet remain hopeful and optimistic?”

The Soupster began to mentally shuffle through the hundreds of holiday tunes residing in his memory.

Liz continued, “Judy Garland’s version is the best – my heart cracks when I hear it. She was the queen muddler. Though Sinatra found the lyric depressing and had it re-written, which is why we can ‘have it both ways’ but we rarely do. Seems artists pick one and stick with it.”

“Let’s see…,” mused the Soupster, “Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, even Bob Dylan sings it both ways – muddling through the first verse and reaching the highest bough on the second.”

“Ella Fitzgerald, too!” Liz added. “Though when she belts it, even the muddling through is somehow upbeat, swinging and hopeful.” The sides of Liz’s eyes were lifted in smile.

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was birthed during WWII, dark times to be sure.” The Soupster said.

“It’s really something that after 80 years this song still has the power to move us so,” said Liz.

Glad to feel Liz’s spirits lifting, the Soupster asked, “Worst version?”

“This one!” Liz shot back without hesitation and rolling her eyes with a chuckle.

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 13, 2020

Our Town – August 13, 2020

| DJ Robidou, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Our Town | August 13, 2020

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 4, 2020

Our Town – June 4, 2020

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Kathy Ingallinera, Our Town | June 4, 2020

The Soupster remembers when he could sit down over coffee with a friend and discuss the wisdom of dogs.

Originally published June 19, 2008, Submitted by Kathy Ingallinera

I turned the corner and reined in my dog, Solly, on her 16-foot retractable leash. Up ahead I could see a woman walking with her dog and I didn’t want Solly too far away and out of control. “Oh, it’s Cody. You know Cody,” I said to my four-legged companion as she pulled on the leash and strained to get closer to the other dog.

“Hi, how are you?” I said in passing to the woman.

I heard her speaking to her dog as I walked by. “That’s Solly. You’ve met Solly before.” She guided the older collie, as she waved at me and shouted, “Have a good day.”

“You too. Come on, Solly, I have to get to work.” We headed back towards home.

“Here comes Bach!” I looked at Solly but it was obvious that she had seen Bach before I did. Her eyes brightened and she yanked at the leash, looking back at me to tell me to hurry up.
As Bach and his person got closer, Solly and I crossed the street so the dogs could interact. “Hi Bach, how are you?” I bent over and scratched the old black lab on his head and offered him a treat.

Bach’s owner bent over, patting his thigh, calling softly to my dog. “Come here, Solly.” When both dogs were done sniffing, we went our separate ways calling, “Have a good day,” to each other.

We ran into several other dogs and their humans on the walk. I called dogs by their names and exchanged pleasantries with their owners.

After work I stopped by a café strategically located behind a local bookstore. I pulled a chair up to a round table to engage the Soupster in some repartee.

“Good afternoon Soupster. I’m doing a survey. Do you have a dog?” He nodded yes.

“Do you walk your dog?” I asked.

“Most days.”

“And do you run into others walking their dogs?” I continued.

“Yes, again. Am I going to win a prize?”

“No. Do you know the names of the dogs you run into?”

“Usually. What are you getting at?”

“One more query. Do you know the names of their owners?”

“No – not unless they’re neighbors…”

“Aha! I am NOT the only one. I realized today I know the names of the dogs in my wide neighborhood, but not the names of the owners. Why do you suppose that is?” I reached over and swiped the rest of his treat.

“I don’t know, but now I have to buy another raspberry bar,” he mumbled as he headed back to the counter.

I followed him. “I am going to introduce myself to my dog’s dog-friends’ people when I meet them from now on. Well, maybe on the second meeting. Don’t want to rush things. Hey, Soupster, thanks. This one’s on me,”

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 21, 2020

Our Town – May 21, 2020

| Guest Written, Our Town, Rachel Ramsey, Small Town Stuff | May 21, 2020

The Soupster and his friend appreciate junk.

Submitted by Rachel Ramsey

As a rule, the Soupster didn’t make a point of answering the phone before 11am, unless he happened to be awake and feel so inclined. When his land line rang shortly after 9 he caught it on the third ring. His pal Brandy’s husky voice greeted him from the other end.

“Good morning – you’re up?” Brandy chuckled. Her voice resonated with jittery excitement. The Soupster tried to respond, only to be cut off.

“As one Our Towner who lives sans social media to another, I had let you know that piles of ‘FREE Take Me’ stuff are popping up all over town.”

The Soupster cleared his throat and replied, “Finally, we’ve returned to the tried and true, rudimentary small-town way of Help-Yourself-Odds-&-Ends piles. I’m in, Brandy, and ready in 20.”

Her van was a hybrid of sorts, though not an electric kind. It had, over the decades, been reconstructed and refurbished piece by piece from salvaged parts of other vehicles, from doors to bumpers and beyond. Brandy fiercely maintained it was an ever-changing functional work of art.

“Better hop in back,” Brandy piped out the window. “Gotta mind our distancing.”

Humming Johnny Cash’s One Piece At a Time, the Soupster hopped into the van, careful not to slam the door too hard. His homemade mask boasted a blue and yellow pattern of Snoopy’s Fonz-insipred alter ego.

“I knew you were good for it!” Brandy laughed through her violet mask. “And thanks for remembering the door. She’s fragile.”

“So what stuff have you seen?” the Soupster inquired, his curiosity bubbling.

“Ribbed PVC hose, an old wooden birdhouse, bedding,” she began. “Awkward, funky-looking metal cabinets. Oh, and sawdust! All sorts of stuff, though I haven’t even begun – I wanted to partner up first,” she explained.

The Soupster said, “Well, ‘one’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ and I’m sure folks think thrice about what they pitch in the garbage, and what they put out for the taking.”

“I’d expect so – sometimes the junk you find is just the junk you’re looking for,” Brandy agreed.

“Maybe some of this oddball junk could be used for a project. Kids could make art or science projects with only the materials found roadside,” the Soupster mused.

“Like the cooking shows where they work magic with only the ingredients provided – yes, that’s a fine idea, Soupster, but why only kids? Adults need creative projects too.”

They pulled over near a church, where a family’s mound of garage sale storage boxes had been neatly set up.  The pile yielded a Snoopy snow globe for Brandy and a brown and green, seemingly hole-less tarp for the Soupster.

“It’s a good sign.” she giggled, shaking the globe and directing her eyes at the glitter-swirled Snoopy. “Now, how about that project idea?”

“I’m sold. Let’s snag that birdhouse you mentioned and add a disco waterslide!” the Soupster chuckled. “What better way to keep Our Town’s perfectly usable junk out of a landfill?”

“Now, that is creative thinking,” Brandy concurred.

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 9, 2020

Our Town – April 9, 2020

| Guest Written, Our Town, Poems, Relationships, Relatives, Vivian Faith Prescott | April 9, 2020

The Soupster gets a poem from a friend.

Submitted by Vivian Faith Prescott

Look, bright yellow stalks emerge from warm muck.
I bend to inhale their familiar scent.

Behold, an old man is ambling down the hospital hallway,
masked, gloved and gowned, while nurses and doctors applaud
his slow return to the world.

My feet press the dry roadside grass and I step over the ditch.
See the red branches on the blueberry bushes, note
a bud’s first pink blush.

Look, we peer out the narrow window at our daughters and
grandchildren, holding signs: We miss you. We love you.
Rainbows and hearts and I try not to weep.

Today, and every morning for days now, with wing-sound
and honk, a pair of Canada geese fly by our porch.
We’ve name them after our airline flights: there goes
flight 64 and 65.

Look, the young woman is sewing a thousand cloth masks,
and a grown daughter sits outside a care home in a flowerbed
talking to her mother through window glass.

See the man is in his shop fabricating a face shield. See
the family dancing and drumming on a dock next to the ocean.
See the stranger dropping a box of groceries off on a porch.

A nurse aid brings water to a bedside. See the mailman opening
the street-side mailbox, placing a letter.

There’s a purple bud on the devil’s club and fat robins flit
around the neighbor’s grass near the outdoor rabbit pen,
and around the corner comes a parade

of elementary school teachers, each in their own sign-draped cars,
beeping horns, waving, cheered by students and parents
on the side of the road.

After days of herring snow and a few more days of sunshine,
the popweed plumps up on the beach. Everything is ripening,
and my elderly father sighs—We’re used to living
with the tide coming in and going out. We’re patient people.
We can do this.

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 26, 2020

Our Town – March 26, 2020

| Animals, Dreams, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Herring, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | March 26, 2020

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 13, 2020

Our Town – February 13, 2020

| Guest Written, Housing, Library, Nan Metashvili, Our Town | February 13, 2020

The Soupster is thoughtful, hopeful & sad.

Submitted By Nan Metashvili

It was a typical Our Town day. Rain drizzled down, fog drifted around the forests like old spirits, and cold waves sloshed resolutely against the shore.

The Soupster was heading towards one of his favorite haunts, the library.

Though not as cozy as the old library, the new one still filled his needs. It was warm and dry, and its services were freely available to all. He would spend time reading the papers and check out a few books to feed his insatiable appetite for reading. With some amusement and no little sadness, he noted that 9.5 out of 10 people scattered around were reading, writing or playing on some sort of electronic device. Not many books to be seen, the old-fashioned kind, that is.

The smell of a brand-new volume to him was indescribable. He positively enjoyed the tactile sensation of turning pages, and the ease of flipping back to reread some passage. Many a time did he find it necessary to refresh his memory about some point mentioned 6 chapters ago. The Soupster was not shy about admitting he was getting on a bit and his little grey cells weren’t what they used to be. And he loved the elegance of choosing just the right bookmark to insert to keep his place. He had a whole collection of them.

As much as he loved reading books, there was also the social side of the library. No cold city institution, Our Town’s library was a lively place where friendships were formed and nurtured, where lonely after-school kids could safely hang out, and where even a few romances had happened. He could always count on finding a pal there to chat with.

As the Soupster picked up a recent nonfiction bestseller to sit and browse through, he noticed the person next to him. The two men both could sit there and gaze out at the unparalleled view of the ocean and small islands, the skiffs and trollers and sailboats going past. They could stay until closing time. They could use the bathroom.

But at closing time, the Soupster could go home to a comfortable and welcoming home, and the other chap obviously could not. Homeless was written all over him, from the shabby clothes, unwashed odor, and the look of sadness and fear in his eyes. Where will he go when the library closes? Out into the rain, and then?

The Soupster started to wonder why the town had to be so difficult for low income folks. Why could they not follow the example of some other communities around the country and take care of all their citizens?

Tiny houses, for example. He had lately been reading about places building tiny houses. Why did people crave McMansions anyway, when a smaller and adequate abode would do? Wouldn’t it be grand if Sitka could commit in a significant way to small and available homes?

The Soupster smiled sadly at the homeless man as the closing time lights flickered.

Then they both left the library.

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 19, 2019

Our Town – December 19, 2019

| Animals, Ghosts/Spirits, Guest Written, Nan Metashvili, Our Town, Ravens, Tourists | December 19, 2019

The Soupster and his companion regard a woman.

Submitted By Nan Metashvili

A bemused out-of-season tourist was wandering around town. She had made it as far as Totem Park and was enthralled with the eerie images high atop the poles. That looks like a Raven, she thought with awe, glancing from the carved image atop a pole, to the shiny black bird hopping around in the branches above her, and making sonorous clonking calls. The light rain did not seem to bother the tourist and the lack of any other people around also pleased her.

As she strolled – following her local Japanese custom of “forest bathing” – her worries eased and a feeling of contentment and rightness dawned. Yes, the giant cedars were soothing and the chattering of Ravens made perfect sense.

Then she approached an open area, with signs explaining that it was the site of a great battle. Many years ago the Tlingit people, in their fort of young saplings, had fought against the Russian occupiers of their lands. A feeling of admiration and solidarity came over her as she read about Katlian and his battle against the foreign invaders. Her own people, the Ainu in the far north of Japan, had met with similar troubles.

But then out of the corner of her eye, she saw a strange little creature. Very strange. A creepy feeling started to rise up from her very kidneys, and little tingles of fear grew, like spiny prickles of sea urchins on bare feet. The creature seemed not quite human, with whiskers long as sorrow, a furry, pointy face and teeth as sharp as ignorance. It leered at her.

Fat rain filled clouds crossed the sky; it grew dark and she became more and more uneasy.

A soft chortle of laughter then caught her attention, and she turned to see two shadowy figures climbing up from the rocky beach to the path under the trees. “Psst! Nels!” called the Soupster, “is that a Kushtaka over there? Making funny faces at that poor lady who is getting worried?”

Rain drips on spruce boughs
Berry bushes wait for sun
The surf crashes on.

With easy laughter, the two waved at her, and although the rain then came, rather heavily, it seemed the air was lighter. She glanced back at the Kushtaka, which no longer seemed frightening. It seemed more like a rather special kind of sea creature, one with rich fur and incredible swimming skills. She even smiled at it, and it seemed to smile back.

With a loud caw, the nearby raven flew off. As it took flight, an ebony feather floated to the ground. Bending over to retrieve it, the tourist noticed that it had come to land beside a tiny carved star and a miniscule wooden dreidl. “Wā” she cried.

The soft laughter from the shades on the shore faded.

She stood in the rain holding the three gifts and commented to herself
“Sitka really is very peculiar little town, but I like it.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 24, 2019

Our Town – October 24, 2019

| Dreams, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | October 24, 2019

The Soupster recounts his “weird” dream in great detail.

Guest Written by Lois Verbaan

It was the time of the year when we get tired of being inside, yet outside, rain was falling so hard that even the newest rain gear was daunted.

“Do you suppose the other hikers made an earlier start?” the Soupster said, knowing he and Lola were probably the only ones in the forest right then.

“Let’s face it, we’re hard core,” Lola said, squinting through the droplets on her glasses.

The Soupster reached into his pocket and extracted a shiny red apple, bit into it and shook his head. “Disappointing,” he mumbled. “Floury.”

“Aah, expectations lead to resentment,” Lola said wisely.

“All that glitters is not gold,” the Soupster declared.

“How about, you can’t judge a book by its cover?” Lola winked. “Say, I ran into Fran downtown yesterday. She tried to convince me to go on The Library Show on Our Town Radio. The problem is, I don’t read much. Spend most of my time making stuff…or hiking in the rain.”

“Well, you Google, don’t you? “the Soupster asked. “What’s even considered a ‘book’ these days? You can find anything you need to know online. Does it cease being a book when you can see the person who’s delivering the info, like those YouTube videos? How do you think I know how to repair my washing machine, replace the rear window wiper motor in my car, and unclog the vent on the dishwasher?” the Soupster said.

“Okay Soupster, I get the picture,” said Lola, laughing. “I do read self-help books, but the minute I go public to discuss them, everyone will know what’s wrong with me.”

“Or themselves,” the Soupster said.

“True! Anyway, the best way to feel normal is to have weird friends,” Lola declared. “That’s why I like you so much, Soupster,” she joked. “Speaking of which, have you been doing any dreaming lately?” she asked.

“Glad you asked, Lola. I had a fabulous dream just last night. I dreamed that I woke up, made my bed and went into the bathroom to comb my hair. When I returned, I found the covers turned down with my laptop lying open by the pillows. Figuring a pixie was messing with me, I found a deck of cards and laid them out to spell the word PIXIE and left the room again. I came back to find the cards reorganized to spell the word DAVID, which I assumed was the pixie’s name. Then I saw him! Perched on the windowsill, he looked like Elf on the Shelf: About 18” tall, a red outfit and hat, ruddy complexion and round nose.

“He and I went to the grocery store where he gave me a bucket of gold, alarming the Scouts as I tipped it out on their bake-sale table.” Just then, the Soupster paused to dig in his pocket for a handful of sunflower seeds. Tossing them into his mouth, he instantly spat them out again. “Eeeww! Raw lentils!” he exclaimed. “I must have topped up my trail mix from the wrong jar in the pantry.”

“Or your elf friend is trying to change your teeth into gold… crowns,” said Lola. “After all, it is that weird time of year!”

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Would you like to create an Our Town?

The Sitka Soup would welcome an infusion of “new blood.” You may tell your story in words (450-500 of them), or as a graphic “cartoon” strip. We would even consider a short original photo essay with B&W photos. Your Our Town must be closely connected with the life of Sitkans, and the Soupster must make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one.

If we run your Our Town, we’ll pay you $50. To submit: Email your creation to shop@sitkasoup.com and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call: 747-7595.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

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