πετροστελος

May 13, 2009

Anchorage Bears, Sourdough and Paradise Lost

For the family of Jim, the Sourdough

The AP reports that 315 bears (250 blacks; 65 grizzlies) now live within my hometown of Anchorage, Alaska.  During the 22 years that I resided in Alaska, I never saw a bear in the city limits.  On the very edges of the Service High School area, in the Chugach mountains, there were rare black bear sightings.  Now, experiences that were common to remote settlements like Cooper Landing have become a regular occurrence in the suburb of Eagle River and the outlying areas of the city proper of Anchorage.

Bears are dangerous animals.  I learned about the perils of bears from Jim, a Sourdough.  The term “Sourdough” was used of old-timers who lived in Alaska well before statehood, while it was still the Last Frontier.  They got the name because they would keep a sourdough crock to which they would add flour and water on a nightly basis. Every morning they would make sourdough hot cakes from the dough, leaving a small amount in the crock to leaven the next batch. It is a hearty breakfast that would make the sedentary urban dweller obese within weeks. Jim, his wife and kids were my family’s best friends as I was growing up.  We often went moose hunting with them or visit them in Cooper Landing, where Jim had a 100-year old log cabin set on glacier-fed Kenai Lake below mountains where wild sheep could be seen grazing.  We would all bunk in the cabin’s loft–a big open room with several beds.  I remember having trouble sleeping because of all the adults snoring so loudly.  On one such visit, when I was about twelve years old, Jim taught me how to make sourdough pancakes from the pot that he had kept leavened for many years.

(more…)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.