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Eagles, Salmon and Bears, Oh My!

Here I am in Alaska - away from the rest of the world (with the exception of a hundred or so other fisherman escaping the rest of the world) only to be introduced to the owner of a food cart lot in Portland – again – coffee again – my heart starts pounding harder again - a business plan begins to emerge.  But wait – I just accepted a position at one of the areas finest art galleries – opportunity, commissions, decent paycheck - the bittersweet singsong of responsibility pounds in my head. Quit daydreaming - shake it off -commit yourself to something!  But what a coincidence!  Just when I am ready to put the coffee pot on the back burner, I meet this person who is opening a new lot of food carts in Portland and would love to see me have a coffee cart there.  I hop on the float plane with visions of lattes, french press coffee and orange cream cheese muffins like a Mitch Miller singalong bouncing along in my mind.

Now back home, getting ready to go into the gallery and I am pressing my nice black pants, putting on my heels, bracelet, earrings, trying to look a bit sophisticated after returning home from a very unsophisticated few days on the Alaskan ocean – where the only thing I was putting on in the morning was chap stick, a beanie and my slickers.  Spending 10 hours a day on a fishing boat where I am peeing in a bucket, wiping blood off my rain boots, eating PBJ sandwiches on WHITE BREAD – now to be home with the luxury of a modern bathroom, dry clothes that smell of Bounce instead of dead fish, and a full refrigerator of food -quite a transition. Not a bad transition but just one where it feels that the real me is a person somewhere in between. Coffee house – food cart – art galleries – angler - Queen of Sheba – who knows.

Owning your own business is more work, this I know, more stress but also more freedom. Even if I were to work 80 hours a week as opposed to say, the normal 40 most people put in at a full time job – to me, it is still more freedom when you find your souls work.  I have had people ask me, "Do you really want to own a coffee house or do you just love being in a coffee house?" - Good question.  I think both. But what do I know?  I can't truthfully say for sure.

Being away from civilization as we know it for a few days can make you look at life a lot differently. You get a sense of how simplistic it really should be and how complicated we have made it. In nature it seems that everyone and everything knows their place, they know where they need to be, what they need to do.  Even though their living conditions and means of finding food, shelter and basic survival is much more difficult than ours, it is nonetheless a simple existence.  To know where you belong, to be at peace with your place in life.  If only it could be that clear and simple for us.  Maybe if we spent more time in and with nature we would know ours too.

  One place I know I should be - spending time, laughs, hugs, shoulder and knee pains with family. . priceless.

Salmon with Maple Thyme Glaze

1/2 C. country-style Dijon mustard
4 1/2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
3 1/2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
6 (8 oz.) salmon fillets
1 1/2 Tbs. golden brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk mustard 3 Tbs. maple syrup, 3 1/2 Tbs. water and horseradish in small bowl to blend. Arrange salmon on baking sheet. Whisk 1 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup, sugar, and thyme in another small bowl to blend. Spread thyme mixture evenly over salmon. Bake until salmon is just opaque in center, about 20 minutes. Transfer salmon to plates. Spoon mustard-horseradish sauce over and serve.

(Alaskan photography courtesy of Pamela Espinosa)

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