Town Square 49
Tuesday is Saint Patrick’s Day, and despite its rich history it’s known by most Americans as a day to drink lots of Irish whiskey and beer. To be fair, Saint Patrick got that reputation by giving Catholics a drinking pass during Lent. “And it provided a sort of nice mid-point break in lent where everyone could go crazy, and I think that’s probably the reason it’s turned into the colossal drinking holiday it is today.” That’s Andrew Schmitt, and he loves all things beer, including beer history. It so happens he also went to Catholic school. Schmitt says it’s odd that Saint Patrick is deemed the drinking Saint, especially since there is literally a patron Saint of beer.
Am I crazy? It’s a sunless winter in Anchorage, made darker by minimal snow clinging to roadways, all icy and gritty. Forget sun and sand, I’m off to New York City to hunt down some color. Everyone knows unless you are headed into the woods for a true Alaskan winter, you don’t need boots and mittens for driving to Costco. Last night, while eating pizza at Moose’s Tooth, husband Dave and I sat near a guy wearing shorts and a t-shirt—yes, flip flops are replacing sorels in the far North. Ok, I need lots of polar fleece up here and when we landed at Newark Airport, we were glad to dig out gore-tex and mittens.
This simple crocheted headband is my best-selling product. I sell out of it at Bella Boutique every holiday season. You can’t go wrong — it’s colorful and has a huge flower on it. I also love embellishing the back of the headband with a vintage button.
One thing Juneau does well is seafood. In my opinion, Alaska’s ocean bounty is second to none. As I was browsing the offerings at a fantastic local shop, Jerry’s Meats and Seafoods, I came across a package of smoked Alaska black cod. While wild Alaska salmon hogs most of the spotlight (and justifiably so), black cod is the unsung hero of Alaskan seafood. Rich, meaty, and incredibly tasty, it might actually be my favorite Alaskan fish.
We’ve all heard it before – Alaska is one-fifth the size of the Lower-48, larger than Texas, California and Montana combined! Our state’s immense size means that Alaskans face unique challenges given the landscape and distances between communities. This is particularly true for rural communities, where feelings of isolation are all too common. Additionally, Alaska’s climate is not for the faint-at-heart. Below-zero temperatures, gale force winds, torrential rains and minimal daylight hours can all contribute to the “winter blues.”
On Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, Conservancy scientists are researching whether the harvest of young growth forests could actually benefit wolves – potentially helping to keep them off the Endangered Species list.
Satellite data has confirmed that the amount of freshwater released into the Gulf of Alaska from streams and rivers in Alaska and northern Canada is about 1.5 times what the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico each year.
Last summer an old friend of mine got married on the Greek island of Paros, which is known for its brilliantly white buildings contrasted against the blue Aegean Sea. I wanted to send her a handmade wedding gift that represented the beautiful location of her wedding. Since I have limited artistic talent (I am not a brilliant illustrator as she is), I decided to knit her an ombre scarf. Ombre might still be considered trendy, but I know I’m a little past the height of ombre hype.
Back to the food. I’ve lost track of how many friends are resolving to drop a few pounds this year. A little less candy, a few more carrots. In that spirit, this dish of roasted cauliflower and broccoli, topped with crunchy, lemony, cheesy panko breadcrumbs is about as close as you get to wanting seconds when it comes to veggies.
Museums are temples that explain a culture but they can be intimidating—you may feel you don’t belong, you’re not on ‘the’ board.
My brother Lee and I were excited about the new big boat. Dad said “Let’s get going,” yet somehow we understood “I’ll meet you there.” Fifteen minutes later, a mile and a half from shore, Dad was so small waving his arms in his dark coat. I pointed and Lee looked, then we turned around.
Augustine Volcano sits alone, a 4,000-foot pyramid on its own island in Cook Inlet. Like many volcanoes, it has a tendency to become top heavy. When gravity acts on Augustine’s oversteepened dome, rockslides spill into the ocean. A scientist recently found new evidence for an Augustine-generated tsunami from a time when Egyptian pharaohs built their own pyramids.
My cousin Sandra and her husband took their newly purchased boat and we headed south out of Ketchikan to try and catch some coho. We started late in the day, but we stopped the motor to drift and tried our luck at casting. Lance, Sandra’s husband, got the first fish bite, but it got away. Sandra asked me if I had any nibbles, but I didn’t yet. We moved toward Mountain Point and started to catch small rockfish and bullheads, but they weren’t coho so we released them all. We started to lose hope of catching anything to keep.
It’s 6:33 a.m. Most of Anchorage is on its way to work. I’m on my second cup of coffee. Three moose lie sleeping in my front yard. The cow and one of the calves awaken now, their heads raised, ears alert to something at the end of the street. The other calf is laid out flat on his side. It’s the most Zen moose I’ve ever seen.
On April 1, 1946, the sea floor ruptured just south of Unimak Island in the Aleutian Islands. Seawater displaced by the giant earthquake sent a 100-foot wave into the Scotch Cape lighthouse on Unimak, destroying the concrete structure and killing the five men inside. They never knew what hit them in the 2 a.m. darkness.
Now that the holidays are over and my handmade gifts have been delivered I can start posting some more patterns. Earlier this winter I became mildly obsessed with the brioche stitch. I found this lovely tutorial and pattern for a cowl and I came up with a simple headband/turban using the same stitch.
As art aficionados know, anything aesthetic is the first thing cut at school board meetings—art is considered a frill! This month’s line-up ought to send the naysayers rethinking.
Today we’re playing Christmas music. Now, we could spend time talking about the songs you’ve already heard a hundred times, or we could do something different. Don’t get me wrong we like the classics, but today we’re going to uncover some Christmas gems. And to do that I’ve brought in Town Square 49 regular Spencer Shroyer, aka DJ Spencer Lee.
I just began the somewhat daunting task of writing a dissertation on the art of Winston Churchill. However for my townsquare49.org columns I get to be less academic when writing about international art exhibitions and master artists. For variety, I decided to seek out quiet artisans in my neighborhood; amongst all of us lurks what I refer to as the Unobtrusive Aesthetician. As art critic Jerry Saltz says, “In the end it all comes down to… a life lived in art.”
It is a very remarkable fact that a region under a civilized government for more than a century should remain so completely unknown as the vast territory drained by the Copper, Tanana and Koyukuk Rivers.