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Comments Off on Our Town – March 10, 2011

Our Town – March 10, 2011

| Computers, Our Town, Seasons, Spring, VHS, Weather, Website | March 10, 2011

“Great Caesar’s debit card!” said the Original Soupster, pushing away the computer keyboard, frustrated. “Fireweed scramble!”

“Uncle,” said the Soupster. “Calm down. Just tell me what it is you’re trying to access.”

“Access? What do you mean access?” said the Original Soupster. “Don’t give me that Greek plaster! Speak English!”

The Soupster took a deep breath.  His uncle lived in a village even smaller than Our Town. Yet the older man insisted on buying a GPS navigation system for his car and then proceeded to get lost in the tiny burg he had inhabited for the last quarter century. As a young man, the Soupster had learned to hypnotize himself on visits by staring at the constantly flashing “12:00” on his uncle’s digital alarm clock and later on his VHS tape deck.

“By Abraham’s peapod,” said Original, ending his nephew’s reverie. “Why can’t you just put them all in a book?”

“What in a book?” asked the Soupster. “What do you want?!”

“Butterpaddle!” said Original. “I want to read your story about the married dog who drives.”

“Oh, you want to read an old Our Town column from the Soup,” said the Soupster, admittedly relieved and also complimented. “All the Our Town columns are archived on the Soup’s Internet website. You should learn to use it.”

“I know that, Soupster, you frontloader,” said the Original one. “Don’t you think I know that?”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“I never push the right buttons!” said Original.

Oh, really? The Soupster thought dryly. I’d say you were a champion button pusher.

But what the Soupster said was: “All right, all right,” and dutifully retrieved a hard copy of an old Soup that contained the Our Town column with the married dog who drives. He handed it to Original, who grunted with approval.

The Soupster answered a knock at the door and found his friend Sadie on his front step, her hat, literally in her hand. “I want to take you up on the offer to lend me a space heater in case it gets cold again,” she said “And do you have an extra pair of sunglasses in case it gets sunny? Oh, and a sturdy umbrella for hail. You know how it is this time of year.”

The Soupster attempted to launch his opinion on the coming changeable weather, but was cut short by a big grunt from Original Soupster, who then came bursting onto the scene.

“Bazooka Joe, you crinkle fry,” said Original, waving the Our Town column in the air like a burning torch. “This is my favorite ‘Our Town.’ You do have a way with the words, Slugbait!”

Editor’s Note: The Our Town column with “the married dog who drives” can be found HERE.

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 24, 2011

Our Town – February 24, 2011

| Our Town, Seasons, Spring, Weather | February 24, 2011

“’This weather – ‘taint fit for man nor beast,” the Soupster said, sitting down with his friend Abigail in a cozy corner of the café. Outside, where it was 30 degrees, hail rained down at 75 degrees, bouncing a few inches off the parking lot asphalt and car roofs.

“I went through at least four weather patterns on the way here,” said Abigail, pushing a mug of geoduck chowder to the Soupster. “This is fabulous. You’ve got to try it.”

The Soupster needed no encouragement and scarfing ensued. Abigail demolished her halibut wrap. “It was amazing,” she said between bites. “Rain, then sun, then hail, then rain, then hail again.”

“That’s five,” said the Soupster.

“It’s like Spring is here,” she said, ignoring him, “This kind of weather I associate with Spring. Only that it’s way too cold for Spring.”

“Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog Day groundhog, didn’t see his shadow this year
and that means an early Spring,” said the Soupster.

“Well, I’ve heard Punxsutawney Phil is right less than half the time.”

The Soupster chuckled and scraped the bottom of his mug to get the very last drop. “This geoduck stuff really is good,” he said. “If I got two more mugs, could you eat one of them?”

“I’ll try,” said Abigail.

The Soupster walked to the counter. “Sue,” he said to the proprietor. “Could you re-fill this mug and ladle out another one for Abby?”

Then sun flooded through the windows, as Sue turned to her stove holding two mugs. “I heard you guys talking about the weather,” she said over her shoulder. “You know what they say about our weather?”

“What?”

“If you don’t like the weather in Our Town,” Sue said, “Just drive to the other end of the road.”

“Ah, microclimates,” said the Soupster. “I grok you.”

Outside, the wind picked up, rustling a stand of hemlock. A large raven landed on the asphalt and found a bit of pastry stuck to a paper plate. He was immediately joined by eight other ravens. The first raven pulled the pastry off the plate and flew off with the morsel, with four of the ravens leaping to pursuit. Freed of the pastry’s weight, the paper plate caught the next gust of wind and headed in the opposite direction, with the remaining ravens following.

“What were you watching?” asked Abigail as the Soupster placed two mugs on the table.

“Our Town’s Favorite Animal Tricks,” the Soupster said. “I bet the ravens are way happier here than they would be in some Back East blizzard or Tennessee ice storm. I heard it was near zero last night in Oklahoma City.”

Abby lifted a dripping spoonful of chowder. “That’s why we live in Alaska,” she said with her mouth full.

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 7, 2010

Our Town – October 7, 2010

| Darkness, Foreign Countries, Germany, Guest Written, Our Town, Rain, Rose Manning, Seasons, Weather | October 7, 2010

“Hi, neighbor Joan. How is life treating you?”

“Soupster, I am fine but it is that time of year again.”

“What time is that?”

“Haven’t you ever noticed; when the rain gets serious and the light begins to fade many of the folks in Our Town start speaking gibberish.”

“What are you talking about? A foreign language, maybe?”

“Well, it might as well be, Soupster. It could be Italian for as much as I can understand. It must be a secret language – ‘Quiltese.’ They throw around terms like slub, bark cloth, feed dogs, round robin swap, ikat, stitch-in-the-ditch, fat quarters, fussy cut and my personal favorite – ‘scherenschnitte’ – that’s German for ‘scissor cuts’ and it’s a kind of fancy paper cutting.”

“Joan, I don’t know what any of it means but I do know some wondrous textiles come out of Our Town. I saw one beauty in white, icy blue and aquamarine sprinkled with bits of cut glass. It was called ‘Glacier’ and almost pushed me to learn the quilting skill myself.”

“Well, Soupster, why not – quilting is not just for women. Many men also enjoy the process. It involves math and engineering along with an artistic eye.”

“I love to hear all the stories of where the fabric comes from – local, of course, and picked up on world travels, from T-shirts won in athletic events, and, of course, there’s always the White E. One number re-created famous paintings of the Virgin Mary from fancy fabrics straight from the dumpster. It’s amazing, Joan, that something so beautiful can be created from discards, plus, it saves them from going in the trash.”

“You know, Soupster, I’m remembering a kind of quilt my great grandma called a ‘crazy quilt.’ It was made with scraps from her sewing. She would sit on the edge of the bed and instead of a bedtime story she would tell me about the quilt pieces. This wool worsted came from great grandpa’s best suit. That fancy, dancy, pink section was from Aunt Lucy’s dress, and we all know how she turned out. The fine white linen piece with embroidered flowers came from a christening gown. There were scraps of plaid flannel, army uniforms, logging pants and a navy blue velvet Sunday-best skirt, too.

Do you have any quilts in your home, Soupster?”

“Well, no, I couldn’t stand the thought that I might get them dirty. They are, after all, works of art. But I am partial to one I saw at last Spring’s Quilt Extravaganza here in Our Town. It had a wildlife theme and a wolf staring out from the center.”

“We sure have some obsessed quilters in Our Town – some even make a quilt every weekend. I think we should take up donations for a new organization. We could call it ‘Quilters Anonymous’ and I bet it would have lots of members especially during these short days and long rainy nights.”

“You’re sure right there, Joan.”

– Submitted by Rose Manning

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 9, 2010

Our Town – September 9, 2010

| Accidents, Children, Darkness, Neighbors, Nicknames, Our Town, Recycling, Relationships, Seasons, Storms, Weather | September 9, 2010

The Soupster remembered his conversation with his neighbor’s grandson with some regret. He felt he was a little harsh with the boy when the youngster tried to lecture him about recycling. The Soupster searched his mind for the just right word to describe his own behavior – which was gruff and hostile out of reflex.

“I was `churlish,’” thought the Soupster and because he was alone, he said aloud, “Like a churl.”

The truth was that the boy had hit a sore point. The Soupster’s mental commitment to recycling often outstripped his physical actions. To wit: The Soupster’s mud room overflowed with paper bags of mixed paper, stacks of newsprint, aluminum cans and sheet metal, tin cans, glass bottles and jars and a good-sized sheaf of cardboard leaning against the wall.

“I must get all that stuff out of my mudroom,” the Soupster thought.

But it was night.

And not just night, but a night that signaled the change in seasons from summer to fall. To wit: A particularly dark and blustery night in Our Town, with the rain blowing sideways in good-sized drops.

Nonetheless, to make up for his churlish behavior, the Soupster put on a slicker and cap, filled his arms with recyclables and jammed them into the passenger area of his car. When he was finished, the Soupster had just enough room in the front seat of his car to cram in behind the wheel.

This time of night, Our Town’s real action was in the supermarkets, which blazed in the blackness like little Las Vegases. But the Soupster kept true to his quest and drove by the stores without stopping. He could think of a few things he needed, but what if someone saw the state of his car right now? “Lucy, you’d have some ‘splainin’ to do,” he chuckled.

It being unusual conditions to be using the Recycling Center, the Soupster found himself alone there, surrounded by big metal bins on which the heavy raindrops beat a complex rhythm. One-by-one, he tipped up the metal hatches of the bins with one hand and tossed his recyclables in with the other. Glass, metal, a plastic bag of shredded paper, the cardboard and mixed paper and the aluminum and tin cans. All that was left was the #1 and #2 plastic, which were to be deposited in four-foot high canvas bags supported by sideways wooden slats.

Depositing the bag of #1 plastic went without incident. But the bag of #2, not so much.

When the Soupster tipped over his second bag, the supporting piece of hard plastic at the bottom of his bag fell out and into the bin.

The Soupster tried to bend over the edge to retrieve it, lost his balance and tipped over into the bin with his head among the #2 plastic and his feet sticking straight up in the air. He tried to pull himself out and could not. Slow minutes passed.

Then, the area was bathed in light as another car pulled up to the plastic containers holding the upside down Soupster.

For good or ill, it was Steve “Big Mouth” Larssen, out on a late-night recycling run himself.

“Number two plastic?” said Steve, surveying the scene with his hands on his hips. “Soupster, I’d think you were at least #1.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 1, 2010

Our Town – July 1, 2010

| Seasons, Temperature, Weather | July 1, 2010

“That sounds brutal,” the Soupster commiserated over the phone with his friend Tilly from Oklahoma.

“Eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit at midnight last night,” said Tilly. “It may hit 105 today.”

“Incredible,” said the Soupster from Our Town. (duh!) “It’s supposed to be 55 here – 50 degrees cooler.”

“Sounds wonderful,” said Tilly. “But I’m sure you pay for it with a long, frigid winter.”

“Nope,” said the Soupster, smugly. “Thirties and forties most of the winter, below 20 degrees hardly ever.”

“I thought Alaska was really cold,” Tilly said.

“Alaska is big,” said the Soupster. “Our Town is far south of the Arctic Circle and warmed by a Japanese current. Mild in the winter and mild in the summer. That is, mildly warm and mildly cool.”

“That’s not what I heard,” said Tilly. “My friend Margaret was in Sitka on a cruise on the Fourth of July and she said it was freezing. `Bless those people in the winter, if that was the summer,’ she said.”

“Might have dropped into the high forties on Independence Day that year,” the Soupster allowed. “But then again, the temperature could have been exactly the same on that year’s New Year’s Day. “

“If the temperature doesn’t change, how do you know what season you’re in?” asked Tilly.

“By the light,” said the Soupster. “The long, long nights of summer – the light goes on shockingly long if the clouds blow off. The inky nights of winter, when the sky and sea and the land are all covered by the same black blanket. And then the twice-yearly journey back and forth between the extremes.”

“I’m sure you miss a hot summer day,” Tilly said.

“Oh, Our Town gets hot enough, for me,” the Soupster answered. “I swear Alaska must be closer to the sun, because when the sun does shine, it feels unusually strong.  If Old Sol is bright and the temperature hits 70, lots of folks here complain that it’s too hot.”

“Seventy Fahrenheit? Too hot? Now, that’s incredible,” said Tilly.

“What I find incredible are the low and high temperatures listed for Our Town on the TV Weather Channel,” said the Soupster. “There’s usually just a few degrees difference between the high temperature and the low. Sometimes, the high and low listed are the same exact temperature. And every once in a long while – usually in the spring or fall — the low for the day will be warmer than the high temperature for that same day.”

“Don’t joke me, Soupster,” said Tilly.

“No, really,” said the Soupster. “I think they just measure the lowest temperature at night and call it the low, then they measure the highest temperature during the day and call it the high. They don’t realize that in this crazy place, sometimes it’s warmer at night!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 11, 2010

Our Town – February 11, 2010

| Canada, Foreign Countries, Weather | February 11, 2010

“I like living in Our Town,” said the Knik Canuck — who previously hailed from Vancouver and Anchorage. “I like it plenty – A to Zed.” He and the Soupster had met up on Lincoln Street earlier and strolled together, heading east.

“Zed?” said an incredulous Soupster. “Don’t you mean zee? A to Zee?”

“You say toe-may-toe and I say toe-mah-toe,” said Knik. “Canadians say zed and Americans say zee. Same thing, really. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

“Even a Sitka Rose?” asked the Soupster.

“Especially a Sitka Rose,” said the Canuck,

A warm headwind down Lincoln Street swept by both men.

“While the Eastern and Western U.S. is battered with storms, we never seem to get cold anymore,” said the Soupster. “Even on sunny days.”

“It’s been so eerily warm this winter,” Knik said. “Wonder what kind of summer, we’re going to have?”

“Wet and grey,” said the Soupster, “Based on my years of observation. Cold winter, warm summer. So, warm winter, cool summer. That’s the process.”

“Aha!” said the Knik Canuck. “You said `prah-cess.’ The word is pro-cess. Like, `progolfers know less or “show ponies can make a mess.”

“You Canadians speak in riddles,” the Soupster announced.

“I’m just tired of 3 to 7 degrees, day after boring day,” said the Knik Canuck. “I’d give anything for it to hit Minus 15 – now that would be the ticket for a good crisp winter day!”

The Soupster was dumbfounded until his brain lit up with the word “Celsius.” He mentally translated to Fahrenheit: 37 to 45 degrees, and 5 degrees above.

“Just so it gets to be freezing, at least once more,” said the Soupster. “Thirty two degrees Fahrenheit.”

“You mean zero,” said the Knik Canuck. “Freezing is zero degrees Celsius.”

“Don’t start that again,” begged the Soupster.

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 17, 2009

Our Town – December 17, 2009

| Christmas, Fishing, Holidays, Music, Parody, Rain, Songs, Weather | December 17, 2009

Let It Rain
(Sung to the Tune of “Let It Snow”)

Oh, the weather is very snotty.
It belongs right in the potty.
We’ve no need to complain.
Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain.

Oh, the Yule is oft pictured frigid,
But we mustn’, get too rigid.
It’s not so much of a pain.
Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain.

When we finally get dried out,
In our sweet little burg by the sea,
There’s no need to fly way Down South.
In Our Town we’re happy to be.

Oh please don’t make me blubber,
While I swath my bod in rubber.
And sing with me this refrain:
“Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain.”

Xtra Tuf Boots
(Sung to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”)

XtraTuf, XtraTuf, XtraTufboots,
Footwear of choice of Sitka galoots.
Neoprene-coated and shiny and spry,
On them you’ll rely.

If your calf’s thin,
You just step in
And keep that damp at bay.

If your calf’s fat,
Well then, that’s that.
You’ll have to keep ’em dry another way.

Roll ’em down, slice ’em up
‘ccording to taste.
They work as slippers, too.

They are ubiquitous.
Hope they aren’t quittin’ us.
That’s the XtraTuf —
They are really skookum stuff –
That’s the XtraTufboots.

Rudy the Old-Time Troller
(Sung to the tune of  “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

Rudy, the old-time troller,
Hated electronic gear.
He did not trust depictions
Not made by his eye or ear.

All of the other trollers,
Peering at their laptop screens,
They all considered Rudy’s
Predilections full of beans.

Then one night of woeful gale,
“Rude,” the trollers pled,
“We come to you beckoning,
Won’t you use dead reckoning?”

So Rudy led the trollers
Through the worst of Dead Boat Pass,
But when thcy went to thank him,
He said “Kiss my GPS!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 19, 2009

Our Town – November 19, 2009

| Rain, Shopping, Tourists, Weather | November 19, 2009

Crouching from the driving wind and rain, the Soupster had to peer between a nearly solid wall of advertising flyers (for fairs, concerts and meetings) covering the door and window to see if the shop was still open. Good, the light was on and the Soupster could see another customer in the aisle.

Father Time and the waning light of autumn recently convinced the Soupster that he needed new and stronger reading glasses. He was also curious about the latest hot/cold soothing patches, sure to be handy during the muscle-cramping chills to come. And maybe something to read, too.

“Soupster!” said George, the store’s owner, standing behind the counter and stacking up a clearance display of salmon-flavored caramels that didn’t go over so well with the tourists. “They let you out again?”

“Got a lot of flyers on them windows, George,” the Soupster said.

“Autumn in Our Town,” said the shopkeeper. “As soon as the last tourist lifts off, the flyers take their place. Everyone earns a breather from acting like good hosts and merchants and drivers and chefs and goes back to nursing their own obsessions.”

The Soupster glanced at the only other customer in the store, a young man over by the paperback novels whose shoulder-length locks were streaked with midnight blue and whose floor-length black coat was festooned with silver chains and studs. He wore the kind of gloves that leave most of the fingers exposed and the nails on his right hand were painted black.

The Soupster looked at George, who seemed oblivious to the Goth youth. “So much energy in Our Town,” said the shopkeeper. “So many ideas and interests and causes and beliefs. And every one deserves a flyer.”

“I wasn’t sure you were still open,” said the Soupster. “What time is it? It gets dark so early now,”

“That’s it, Soupster,” said George. “Each of the flyers on my window and door are a candle lit against the darkness. Light a candle rather than curse the darkness. What gives more light than people getting together to do good or have fun?”

The Soupster became aware of a Goth presence standing next to him. With his non-painted hand, the young man placed on the counter a Sci-Fi paperback about the ultimate destruction of the Universe. He noticed the Soupster looking at the book. “It’s for the plane,” the young man said,

“Taking a trip?” asked George.

“I’m getting out of here,” said the youthful Goth. “I thought this place was pretty cool all summer. But then it got worse and worse.”

With a glossy black fingernail, he indicated the window, where sideways hail had defeated the building’s overhang and was pounding directly against the glass. The dark was nearly complete. The Gothful youth pulled his long black coat tighter to his throat. “This place is way too depressing,” he said.

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 30, 2009

Our Town – July 30, 2009

| Ann Wilkinson, Clothing, Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Our Town, Rain, Weather | July 30, 2009

The Soupster hoped the drizzling rain would keep the tourists downtown in the stores of Our Town and not out walking in the Park. The Soupster likes the Park better when it’s quiet. But understands that, for many tourists, this is the one day in their life they can visit The Park of Our Town.

Near the entrance to the walking trails, the Soupster noticed a familiar face, Lizzy, a local nature writer and naturalist.

“What’s all this, Lizzy?” the Soupster asked, walking up to the park bench where Lizzy was sorting large laminated cards.

“Field guides for my students,” Lizzy said, barely looking up from her stacks of cards. “I’m meeting a group of naturalist students here for a walk through The Park. These are field guides to help them identify what-all they see.”

“Good thing they’re laminated,” the Soupster chuckled as he picked up a stack of cards and wiped rain drops off with his sleeve. “Let’s see what you have here, Birds of Alaska, A Field Guide of Southeast Alaska Trees, and one on Flora of the Northwest. Well it looks like you’ve got everything covered.”

“Just about, I want my students to be prepared,” Lizzy said as she added one more card to each of her stacks.

“Would you look at this,“ the Soupster said. “It’s a field guide to clouds and what weather they bring.”

Lizzy laughed, wiping rain off the sleeves of her jacket. “We don’t really need that one. Today, like most days this time of year, we have mostly nimbostratus clouds.”

The Soupster looked at the sky and then the card. “’Nimbostratus: low lying clouds that produce near constant moderate or light rain.’ That’s Our Town.”
Lizzy and the Soupster watched a group of tourists hurry from the Park Visitor’s Center to the canopy of the forest. Another bus load of tourists pulled up to The Park and tourists were scurrying to get out of the showers.

A few locals of Our Town gathered near a totem pole, talking, laughing, oblivious to the rain.

“Those must be your students,” the Soupster said pointing to the small group. “I guess you don’t need a field guide to tell the tourists from the locals.”

Lizzy laughed. “That’s an interesting concept – a field guide of people. Let’s see — the tourists would be identified by their clothing. Impractical footwear, rain ponchos that look like trash bags, umbrellas, and the females carry canvas bags with cruise ship logos. As for their behavior, they are always in a hurry and don’t tolerate rain.”

“And what about the locals?” asked the Soupster.

“That’s easy,” replied Lizzy, looking over at the group of students, “Xtratuf boots, Carhartts, layers of fleece vest and jackets, and no umbrellas.”

“And what about identifiable behavior?”

Lizzy thought for a minute, “Friendly, easy going, and tolerates rain well.”
“That’s Our Town,” said the Soupster as he entered the Park, happy to enjoy the company of the birds, flora and tourists.

– Submitted by Ann Wilkinson

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 18, 2009

Our Town – June 18, 2009

| Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Seasons, Spring, Sunshine, Weather | June 18, 2009

For two weeks, the sun shone from early, early morn to long past when it had any right to still be up at all. Two solid weeks of sun. Our Town melted and oozed toward Solstice.

Throughout the spate of sun, general sprucing had ensued: wall colors brightened with paint, unruly lawns subdued by blades, rhubarb eradicated (or given lovingly to friends). Car hoods wore the confetti buds and seeds of whatever tree they parked under. Kids were visible in public during business hours. The Soupster, like most residents of Our Town, had been saying things like, “I can’t remember when it was sunny two weeks in a row like this.” Or “Remember, we used to get two weeks of sun like this two times every summer 10 (or 20 or 30) years ago” — depending on how long the speaker had been here.

Overdosed on light, the Soupster relished the quiet and relative dark coolness of the post office. It was Saturday morning and he had the place to himself. He fought a quick urge to stretch out on the cool floor tiles. Instead, he pulled out his key and fit it into the lock of his post office box. At the exact second the Soupster opened the box, a business-sized letter moved toward him out of it.

The Soupster grabbed onto the letter and pulled.. And the letter… pulled back! This was ridiculous! The Soupster pulled on the letter, but it refused to budge. The Soupster was actually losing ground.

He peered into the dark postal box and could see at the far end about two-fifths of the face of his old neighbor, Roberta, a long-time postal worker.

“Soupster,” Roberta said, seeing him at the same moment, “I should have known it was you!”

“Roberta,” said the Soupster. “I had forgotten that you work here. How’s your little girl?”

“My little girl? That ‘little girl’ is going to college in Fairbanks in the fall,” she said ruefully. “Why don’t you come to her graduation party? I was going to send you an invitation, but, hey — this is even faster than the mail!”

The two-week softening of the Soupster’s brain from sun rays and the general weirdness of having a conversation through a mailbox made the Soupster feel unsteady. Nonetheless, “Thanks for working on the weekend,” he managed to say.

“Oh, pshaw,” said Roberta, as the Soupster locked up his postal box.

“Soupster,” said Stuart, the Soupster’s plumber, who was just then turning the corner into the row of post office boxes. “You talking to your mail again?”

“Female,” the Soupster deadpanned. “Female.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 7, 2009

Our Town – May 7, 2009

| Environment, Nicknames, Our Town, Recycling, Seasons, Spring, Sunshine, Weather | May 7, 2009

Drunk on sunshine and happily munching a donut, the Soupster staggered down to a rocky beach near the end of the road. For the first time this year — in homage to the growing warmth and light — the Soupster had tossed his winter coat to the back of the closet and donned a fleece vest instead. This day was so warm the Soupster considered yanking off his boots and socks, setting on a rock and soaking his toes in Sitka Sound until they wrinkled.

But that dream bubble popped when the Soupster nearly stepped on Gavin “Frenchy” Leboyer, who crouched by the water’s edge. The Soupster stopped chewing.

“What gives you ze right to bare arms?” quipped Leboyer, in the fake French accent that earned him his nickname.

The Soupster extended his arms and savored the sun on his skin. “You look like a scuttling crab down there, Frenchy,” he said, laughing. “Le Crabe!” He took stock of his crouching friend. “Whatever are you doing?”

Frenchy was pulling plastic containers out of his backpack, popping the lids and sprinkling the contents – various leftovers – onto the rocks by the water’s edge. “It’s my last two weeks of cooked food scraps,” he said. “Just repaying the ocean’s bounty.”

“That’s got to be illegal,” said the Soupster. “Littering, maybe?”

“I’m a good boy,” said Frenchy. “I’ve been composting my uncooked table scraps for years. But I’ve always thrown the cooked leftovers into the trash and one day I said to myself — `This is excellent food, I eat it myself. I bet something in the ocean will eat this, too.’”

“I don’t know,” said the Soupster. “This brings to mind the bad old days when cities like New York would just load all their garbage into ships and dump the trash in at sea.”

“Not the same,” said Frenchy. “That was all kinds of stuff, a lot of which was poisonous or not food, like metal and concrete. This is the good stuff. I guarantee you there’s some critters who won’t turn up their noses. Or whatever they have on their face that they turn up. If they have a face, that is.”

Frenchy sprinkled the food in a small circle as the Soupster watched. Frenchy reached down and picked up what looked like the last gasp of a partially eaten Big Mac. “I just keep thinking about this hamburger taking the long trip by barge and train to the Eastern Washington landfill where all Our Town’s trash goes. And then it gets buried and rots and belches methane.”

“Except the stuff we recycle,” said the Soupster. “And that’s more and more every month.”

“Look at this,” Frenchy said, indicating the leftovers that the rising tide was already starting to digest. “Think of how disgusting this stuff would be by the time it got to the landfill.”

“You may be on to something, Frenchy,” the Soupster said. “Nature doesn’t waste anything, One creature’s offal is another’s dinner.”

“Just don’t turn me in.” Frenchy pleaded.

“Mum’s the word,” said the Soupster, zipping his lip. Then he looked at the sea. “Le Mer,” he called as he tossed the last of his donut over Frenchy’s head. “Bon appetite!”

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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.

Our Town Archives

Our Town Categories

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