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Key to relaxation: The right kind of work
Randy Friend casts a lure at silver salmon and trout on the Thorne River. - photo by Photo by JEFF LUND

Tilting my day toward the night hours makes me feel like I am running behind, so I prefer waking up early in general and on vacation, especially since many of my vacations involve fishing.

More than that though, my parents fostered a desire to be productive. Long days filled with work are satisfying. John Wooden put it in his Pyramid of Success under “Industriousness”.

Industrious days that start with fishing can even end in blisters and rain, it really doesn’t matter as long as I am on pretty water with the chance to see pretty fish.

Sunday incorporated almost everything I enjoy about being alive including hard work.

Brian, Randy and I woke up at 5, and by 7 I was fighting a disappointed coho salmon on my fly rod.

The sun had burned off the sea-fog and was penetrating the lazy, low Thorne River while we casted at fussy fish pooled up, waiting for a good rain to help them move up river.

We weren’t too concerned about catching salmon since Alaska Airlines was already primed to make a small fortune from charging for all the fish boxes we’d be checking, but of course we wanted to get into some fish. The fishing was slow and demanded we instead direct our attention to the enrapturing wilderness we’d be leaving behind.

Just above part of the river known as ‘The Pinch,’ two deer emerged from chest-high grass then settled down into the muddy shore and watched, ears alert as I looped my fly line back and forth above the water. I stared at them for a while too and wondered if they wondered what I was doing or if they even cared.

Toward the end of the summer I take more time to absorb as much wild tranquility as possible, because I get all poetic before I am about to leave Alaska. I also care less about catching fish, and sometimes just gaze up river and listen to rolling water and hyper-active birds.

Randy and Brian met me and the three of us watched the deer before moving up river to the wide, still portion that more resembles a lake.

We fished for a bit, then headed home under a warm blue sky with only a few clouds as garnish.

We finished chopping and stacking the firewood that will last mom until next spring, then ate lunch at Papa’s Pizza. By 2 p.m., we were at the baseball field to watch the owner of Papa’s, who is also the local baseball guru, coach the Prince of Wales Island All-Star team against Ketchikan’s best.

The whole situation impressed Brian and Randy — kids making baseball plays and diving on a gravel infield pinched between a beautiful high school and a mountain.

Prince of Wales took a 3-0 lead as Brian and I cracked through a bag of $1 sunflower seeds, but eventually lost, 5-3.

We went to Papa’s again for ice cream, a tradition started last summer, then headed home to spread gravel on the driveway mow the lawn and knock down persistent weeds that have built an immunity to spray poison.

The day was industrious to say the least.

We fished, we chopped, we stacked, we shoveled, we watched kids I’ve known since before they had teeth play baseball and we ate fresh salmon for dinner.

That night I slept satisfied and well, and dreamed about the river like I was in a “Yanni Goes to Alaska” music video.

Randy didn’t.

“Last night I had a dream I was chased by wolves, but it was cool, because I could fly.”

To contact Jeff Lund, email