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Comments Off on Our Town – May 31, 2018

Our Town – May 31, 2018

| Our Town, Small Town Stuff, Sunshine, Tourists, Weather | May 31, 2018

The Soupster is called out on his talkativeness & put to the test.

Originally published July 12, 2012

Carrie told the Soupster he talked too much and her criticism stung. The Soupster knew he could go on and on – maybe a tiny, little bit? — but he didn’t know his friend had been suffering. And for “quite a while,” no less.

“I bet you can’t keep your conversation to a minimum even for one day,” Carrie threw down the gauntlet. “Not even for one whole day.”

“I can,” the Soupster insisted. “And I will!”

Today was the day. The first mission of the new, zip-lipped Soupster was to check the mail at the post office. As the Soupster strolled downtown, he had to duck into a few storefronts to avoid fellow chatterboxes who might stress-test his mettle.

“Soupman!” The call came from Charlie, a hiking buddy who, unfortunately, happened to be in a store the Soupster had judged free of customers. “Tell me what’s new with the Man in the Can?”

“Not much,” said the Soupster, wishing he could have thought of a one-word answer. “Gotta go,” he said slipping out of the store.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire? Two busfuls of visitors hit the sidewalk and poured around the Soupster like a human wave.

Hide in plain sight? The Soupster pulled his cap low on his forehead and attempted to avoid eye contact with the cheery migrants surrounding him.

No use! The Soupster felt his lapels being patted and looked down into the face of an older man wearing a tag that said, “Hi! I’m Horace!”

“Hi, I’m Horace,” he stated the obvious, grasping the Soupster’s hand and shaking it vigorously. “I’m new to these shores.”

“Hi, Horace,” said the Soupster.

“Yup, this is some different place,” Horace said. “Where’s all the big box chain stores? Don’t you have any big box chain stores?”

“Nope,” said the Soupster.

“Our bus driver said he was taking us all over town but we only went five or six miles one way and then seven or eight the other. That can’t be all the road you have.”

“Yup,” said the Soupster, zipping his lips so tight he could taste metal.

“And this rain I keep hearing about,” Horace plunged on. “It’s certainly not raining now. Is going to rain soon? Am I going to get wet? I mean, isn’t this town too nice to be built by people who get rained on every day?”

As the Soupster moaned silently, a beam of sunlight illuminated a break in the throng of tourists ahead. “Yup,” said the Soupster, shaking Horace’s hand. “Nope,” he added. And then the Soupster escaped.

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 15, 2013

Our Town – August 15, 2013

| Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Sunshine, Weather | August 15, 2013

The Soupster celebrates Sitka weather.

“No, Uncle Bob, I’m not aware,” said the Soupster into the receiver of his landline phone, “just how hot your weather is right now.”

That was an outright lie. In fact, the Soupster knew. He regularly enjoyed playing a weather game called “Too Hot!.” The game involved reading the list of daily temperatures in the newspaper or watching the highs and lows of major U.S. cities scroll by on television and stopping at each one 80 degrees or higher to think aloud “Too Hot!” Starting in the Spring, various cities would pass into the realm of “Too Hot!” until, by August, most of the country qualified. It seemed as though too many cities were getting “Too Hot!” too early in the year and staying simmering too late into the fall. The Soupster knew from his game that Uncle Bob’s area had been hitting triple digits all week – shattering records set in horse-and-buggy days.

“That sounds terrible, Uncle Bob,” the Soupster said to his mother’s brother’s description of clothing turning sweat-soaked in minutes, engines overheating on grid-locked streets, regional power outages making air conditioners and refrigerators useless.

Of all the things the Soupster loved about Our Town and knew he would miss the most, its mild summertime temperatures ranked tops. Our Town and its neighboring villages were maybe the last places in the country where the Soupster could live without ever having taken his air conditioner out of its box – it sat in the back of the Soupster’s closet like a survivalist’s cache of water pouches, freeze-dried Stroganoff and space blankets.

“What’s that, Uncle Bob?” the Soupster asked, registering what his relative just said. “Your car was stolen when?”

During the heat wave and power outage, Bob explained, making it infinitely more difficult for him and his wife to haul ice back to their house to try and save the food in the chest freezer. The lack of transportation made it impossible for the couple to go the lakefront or other cooler escapes. Their usual last resorts – the movie theaters and the International House of Pancakes — were dark because of the blackout. Police found Bob’s car finally – minus hubcaps and, oddly, head rests.

“Why doesn’t it matter anymore, Uncle Bob?” asked the Soupster, registering alarm. “What do you mean “Eminent Domain?”

Uncle Bob explained that he worried that a developer wanted to build condos right where his neighborhood stood. Meant jobs and higher taxes for the city. In New Jersey, one city condemned some people’s houses with exactly the same outcome in mind and the U.S. Supreme Court backed the city and the developer. The city always wanted more people. More people just meant longer lines, Bob complained – at the market, the bank – even to vote. Of course, floods and tornadoes threatened, too. Along with the pesticides in the groundwater.

“Uncle Bob, you really have got to consider moving somewhere you find more pleasant.” said the Soupster.

“Never happen, Nephew,” Bob said. “Where else are real estate prices this low”?

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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.

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