Friday, August 31, 2007

Stars, Salmon, and Fruit Pies

Got back from dinner tonight before the moon rose, and the stars were just stunning. That's another of those things we tend to forget about, living in the city. There are so many beautiful stars! The other night we sat out and watched the moon come up over the mountain range, then took a walk and admired our moon shadows. Tonight we marveled as the rising moon washed so many of the stars out of view.

And we heard a bat flutter by. Very cool.

This afternoon, on our last full day in town, we biked over to the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. They had spawned the last of their adult salmon earlier in the week, so all we could see was juvenile salmon in the outdoor ponds.

It's quite a process, hatching and growing salmon. Rather daunting to see how much humans have impacted the fishes' world over the last century or two. Fish populations are way down (from an estimated 6 million salmon in 1800 and 1900 to only about 1 million in 2000), while human population has dramatically increased.

The hatchery has some really interesting and thought-provoking displays about the differences between hatched and wild salmon, and how fish raised at the hatchery are at a competitive disadvantage once they get out in the wild, and might possibly dilute the gene pool by breeding with wild salmon. On the flip side, if it weren't for hatched salmon, there might not be significant numbers of salmon in Washington at all. That's a daunting thought to those of us who love to eat salmon.

Dams, development, erosion. All bad for the fish. It's tough out there for a salmon.

They also had an excellent display commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rachel Carson (who once worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries--now the Fish and Wildlife Service that manages the hatchery). Most people know her as the author of Silent Spring (which is still excellent, 45 years after its original publication). But she wrote about many other things, especially the relationship of humans to nature. I have one of her books on the ocean working its way to the top of my reading queue at the moment, and want to find one she wrote about the sense of wonder that we should be fostering in children (and adults).

And finally, on a lighter note, last night we finished off an excellent marionberry pie. We had gone into a local bakery looking for a berry pie, and found that. My wife always reminisces about childhood visits up here, and remembers picking berries and eating berry pies. Berry pies hold a special place in her heart.

Earlier in the day, while sharing a delicious local nectarine, we wondered as a group why we never see nectarine pies, when there are peach pies galore. Well, lo and behold, the bakery had a nectarine-blueberry pie, so we had to get that, too.

Turned out the nectarine pie wasn't so great. Didn't seem to have been cooked thoroughly, so it really wasn't all that appealing. The marionberry pie, on the other hand, was wonderful, and we thought seriously about going back for another, but there wasn't time. Alas; vacations are so fleeting. Although my wife pointed out that we can probably get tasty berry pies at home, too.

[Side note: Having lived in the District of Columbia in the 1980s, it is still a little hard for me to take seriously the fruit called the marionberry. Maybe that's just me. But the pie was really great.]

1 comment:

Laura E. Goodin said...

The marion berry. Oh, Lordy. I didn't even catch on to that until you pointed out the obvious. I am going to be laughing at inappropriate moments until my brain gets used to the phrase and humor-fatigue sets in....