Every year we go down to Chitina on the Copper River and dipnet for salmon. Its exhausting. And a whole lot of fun. The Copper River is a great wide roiling band of silty water power that cuts through the wild. And every year the salmon return, swimming somehow upstream against a current that will tow a man under in moments. The Darlin'Man along with our good friend Maple of Maple&Me made the long trek down and back in just under 48 hours whilst, conforming to traditional gender roles, we womenfolk stayed home. Hanging off the side of a shale cliff just isn't quite the best idea for a 16 month old and this pregnant lady gracefully bowed out of the prospect. Then we all pitched in to process the fish. Even the littlest one, who was a champ wiping down everything in reach with her own paper towel!
We do our best to waste as little as possible: fish are filleted, then scraped for canning, then carcasses are boiled down for chowder stock or frozen to feed chickens.
They are a precious natural resource we are so fortunate to have access to, but more even than that they are sacred. We are what we eat. Literally. Foodstuffs are the building blocks of the body. Analysis of your tissues will turn up genetic markers that speak to your diet. Yoga calls the physical form the anamayakosha , the food body.
When approached with reverence, the relationship between eater and eaten is a sacred one. I feel and I honor this connection with the plants in my garden, with the chickens and moose and caribou that come to our freezer. But for me this sacred relationship is most tender, most intimate with salmon. Before each trip to Chitina I spend some time in meditation, I journey to the spirits of the salmon, and I renew my gratitude. My love. I feel a kinship with them. They also happen to be one of the best sources of nutrition on this planet!
And let me assure you, fresh never-frozen copper river red salmon is incredible. Grilled with just a hint of lemon or salt and pepper. Divine.