In most years, at the end of November and the beginning of December, there are chum salmon spawning in the stream. If the weather allows, we sleep with a window open and, being a light sleeper, I am often awakened by the sound of splashing as the big female chums beat out a spawning redd in the gravel and the males fight for territory. The following day, I work my way down the old logging road and observe the fish. There are usually five or so spawners hanging in the current where the creek winds its way through our nine acres of woods; and once I saw a big blue torpedo of a steelhead shoot through on its way upstream.
I watch for Eagles flying above the creek or perched on limbs above it and they are an infallible sign that fish are in. Each day this week I have gone to one of my lookout spots hoping to see the fish, but the fast and turbid flood waters haven’t allowed it. But early this morning I awoke from a vivid dream and in my dream the fish had returned.
I was walking along a path next to a stream when I saw a group of salmon waving back and forth in the clear waters. The chums were accompanied by a large king salmon. Kings would not likely be here, but hey; it’s a dream stream. And not only that, but I yelled up the hill and my father, appearing just as he had when he visited me in Alaska in 1974, came hustling down the trail as I waved sign language about the fish I was seeing.
My father, a chief engineer on ships, was home from the sea and, with my mother, had come to rural Alaska to see the cabin I was building and to do what he loved to do; fish. He was a large Hawai’ian man; born one hundred years ago in Hilo and just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated with a family luau in Hilo and remembered him.
I can’t recall the last time I woke up with tears in my eyes. Perhaps it’s my advancing age and the accompanying melancholy. But I am thankful for the dream’s occurrence at dawn, the time of night when vivid dreams happen and one can remember the details. There was great happiness in seeing my father again and now that my subconscious tells me they are there, I will climb down and see if I can spot the fish.
Russell Cahill 12/10/2015