Afterlife

I took my nephew to our cabin for the second time this week. Yes, he’s on his electronic game or whatever it is all the time he’s in the house. But when it’s time to go outside – to the cabin, fishing, etc – he leaves them at home and doesn’t go through withdrawals without them.

We pulled the king crab pot we’d set down Chatham but no luck. We caught a couple of undersized tanner crab and the door was partially open on the pot. We fished for a couple hours and no salmon. When we got to the cabin anchorage and checked our dungy pots, we had one. So at least the dinner menu for Eaton was decided.

We walked in and I put the crab on to steam. Eaton was immediately at home at the cabin now. The outhouse doesn’t phase him. Nor lack of electronics.  He inhales half the crab, as he’s now much quicker at picking the meat out of the shell.

He asks me if I’ll give him the cabin when I die. Maybe, I say. It’s not just up to me.  He understands about marriage and decisions and all. Then he starts counting out loud about how old I’ll probably be when I kick the bucket and how old he’ll be when he gets the cabin. It’s kinda creepy.

What do you want to do on your last day in town tomorrow,  I ask him. All the fun stuff to do, he says. Like what, I ask. Swimming. Check the crab pots. Maybe fishing.  An easy kid to have along. He tells you when he’s hungry.  You ask what he wants to do and he actually thinks about it and gives an answer other than “I don’t care” or “I don’t know”. He wants to be here.

I get up early the next morning and start picking berries. When I return after a half hour of picking for some coffee, Eaton is up and making pancakes. This is his first time cooking them, and they are perfect.  We put lots of Dul’s maple syrup from Bolivar, NY on them. Then Eaton says he wants to make blueberry jam for his dad, so we go back out and pick more berries.

We check the dungy pots on our way out and have one more keeper. Then we fish for an hour and a half and get one bright chum salmon. When we get home, I have a couple king salmon from Chris to butcher. One is for Ron and one to send home with Eaton.

That night, we made the jam. Blueberry jam is simple: crushed berries and sugar. Blueberries have enough pectin to jell the jam. We were out of sugar. I ask Eaton if he wanted to go and he said “nah”. Then I said there was ice cream involved, and he was soon ready. We got our sugar and ice cream at Costco. I put the food processor together and we fed the berries in to crush them. Eaton measured the mash. Then we did the math of how much sugar we needed based on the ratio in the recipe, and he measured the sugar and added it to the pot with the berries. I read him the part of the recipe about stirring constantly to keep the jam from scorching, and Eaton stirred the jam until his arm hurt.

He tasted the jam as it thickened, and each time got more excited because it tasted so good. He knew his dad would love it. When it was finally ready, we poured it into the half pint jars. He cleaned the jar mouth, and put on the lids and rims. While the boiling bath was heating, we made another smaller batch of jam with the red huckleberries, and by the time that was done, the boiling bath was about ready.  We were able to can the 10 half pints in one batch, and Eaton was pleased with the result. He put each jar in a ziploc bag, then wrapped it in a piece of clothing in his suitcase for the trip home.