Our Town – April 2022

The Soupster teeters on the brink.

The Soupster teeters on the brink.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan

“Pizza! Pizza!” called a familiar voice above the woosh of a high-pressure hose. An unruly dog rushed out at the Soupster from behind a cluster of – until five minutes ago – snow-covered salmonberry bushes.

“What on earth, Rick?!” the Soupster said, relieved as the dog’s barking lapsed into a series of warm, wet licks.

Rick looked down from the ladder he was on, leaning against his aluminum fishing boat.

“Ha!” Rick exclaimed. “I’ve been trying out my new theory, which is that even smart dogs are not actually responding to their name, but to the tone of your voice. Turns out Astrid comes to any name most of the time, and no name when defending life and property.”

“You out for a walk, Soupster?” Rick inquired.

“Yep, getting those 5,000 steps in,” the Soupster said. “And trying to adjust my attitude. I was just starting to love life again with last week’s good weather.”

“Yeah, it’s amazing what a few rays can do for you,” Rick admitted. “Anyway, more snow after teasingly great weather is hardly a surprise in our town.”

“Yep, brings in the herring,” the Soupster agreed. “Though lately, with climate change and all, who knows. Whatcha been up to, Rick?” he asked.

“Spring-a-rizing my boat” Rick replied. “Winterizing, springarizing… get it?” The Soupster chuckled. “Got a cabin trip next week,” Rick added. “Gonna get driftwood for the fireplace. Funny how we live in a forest but aren’t allowed to use the dead stuff in it,” he noted.

“Yep, the Tongass is the largest U.S. National Forest,” the Soupster said. “Twice the size of Massachusetts. And you know where I’d rather be living,” he laughed. “Anyway, the minute this snow has melted and the temperature’s tolerable enough to work outside for a while, I’ll be turning over garden soil and seaweed and creating slug hotels,” he pronounced.

“Slug hotels?” Rick repeated slowly.

“You know, free beer for the slugs. In a cup, in a hole near the new starts,” the Soupster said with a murderous glint in his eye. “Got to cover it with a bigger container, though, so the rain doesn’t dilute it. That would really be a waste of beer.”

“Well, let me know when the hotels are up and running,” Rick winked. “I wouldn’t mind visiting one of those watering holes myself,” he chuckled.

“Well, I’ll be off like a prawn in the sun” the Soupster said, glancing down at his watch to check his step count, as Rick turned on the high-pressure hose again.

Tiny snowflakes drifted through the air, turning into wet blobs as they hit his face, finding their way into the tops of his gloves and boots. Spruce branches sagged over the path, heavy with melting, dripping snow. Smoke coiled out of a nearby chimney and cars drove by, spraying slush.

In the distance, fuzzy charcoal islands hinted at a horizon that might be between a dark gray sea and a light gray sky. Hard to believe but spring was just around the corner.


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