Mounting Tension

By , April 11, 2016

A sense of growing excitement pervades the homestead, as spring advances, and the herring run approaches. Gulls and other sea birds gather in larger flocks, sitting on the water, perching on the rocks, and filling the air with their cries. The sea lions patrol the waters off our beach in larger, more playful and vociferous groups. Eagles call and dog fight above the cabin. Small boats whiz north and south as townspeople begin to try their luck for herring and Dolly Varden char in Mud Bay.

This morning, our cat, Spice, began her crying around 5:15 a.m. She seemed even more insistent this time, becoming almost frantic. She even started her despicable trick of running in from the main cabin and landing on us with a flying leap. The eagles had already started calling to each other in the trees over our heads, so I assumed that had upset her.

Then I heard it. Or rather, felt it. A fast, basso profundo pulse grew around us, filling the cabin with sound. I got up and went outside, expecting to see one of the giant ore ships that occasionally come up Lynn Canal, headed for Skagway.

Instead, barely seen through the predawn gray, I saw a large private boat, apparently a large motorized live aboard, something under 100 feet. Its engine pulsed deeply and loudly. It angled southeast as it moved, approaching the Coast Range across the canal. Oddly, the farther away it went, the louder its engine seemed. I assume it echoed off the mountains more as it approached them. Whatever the cause, the pulse increased in pressure and volume for about half an hour before finally fading away.

After it passed, we heaved sighs of relief. I’m sure the cat joined us.

Excitement and boat noise will continue to increase up to and beyond the arrival of herring. The region’s coming alive after a long winter sleep. That can be both invigorating and unnerving.

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