Occasional Neighbors

By , August 5, 2016

Our nearest full time neighbors live about a quarter mile north of us. Our nearest occasional neighbors are much closer, a few hundred yards away.

A young couple from Juneau owns the property next to us. They have a tiny, lovely cabin there, and a small shed. We see them several times a year, if we’re lucky.

He’s the state’s pre-eminent mountain goat biologist. She studies the habits and movements of sea mammals, mostly seals and sea otters. His work brings him to our area often, while she’s more likely to spend her research summers in Glacier Bay across the Chilkat Range from us.

We like them a lot, and when we see them, we share pleasant conversation. However, seeing them sometimes seems like the hard part. They slip in quietly, live quietly while they’re here, and leave just as quietly. They come here far more often than we’re aware of them.

Usually, we figure out they’ve come if we hear their gas generator, or smell smoke from their wood stove. The low rise, rocky outcroppings, and forest between our cabin and theirs insulates remarkably, deadening environmental noise from either side.

If the summer’s particularly dry, they sometimes come over to fill a jug with water. Their tiny creek and small water catchment system often run dry at this time of year.

We used to invite them over, but we eventually realized that when we meet, we come from opposite orientations. We welcome the company, while they, coming from Juneau, seek solitude. They come here to get away from it all, not to socialize! We talk when we cross paths, but try not to encroach on their precious time here.

The other evening, the young woman came by to get some water just as we pulled a salmon filet out of the oven. We managed to convince her to sit down to dinner with us, and enjoyed an evening of food and conversation. She will remain here alone till Saturday, but unless we cross paths on the trail, we likely won’t see her again until next time. Or, perhaps the time after that.

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