Blackfish

by Brad Cole

It was early Saturday morning and ice still laid on the ground from the night before. Small patches of snow covered the land. I decided to walk to a nearby pond to see how thick was the ice, being interested in blackfish trapping.

I walked just south of Tuluksak to a frost-covered field of wild grasses glistening in the low hanging sun. The light bounced and sparkled off the plants that covered the large open field. The air seemed to have a radiant glow of sunlight reflecting off of the frosty landscape.

I followed a trail that ran through the full length of the meadow. The ground was crunchy with thin ice and sometimes my foot would crush through it into ankle deep water. So I decided to walk to the outer, drier edges.

Looking over the pond I saw a beaver lodge blanketed with last night’s freshly fallen snow. The grass was a rustic gold color surrounding the calm, deep blue pond. It looked and felt like the beginning of winter, I thought.

Walking back to the village I felt that fishing was a way to connect to the power and purity of nature. One is capturing and eating a part of the wilderness. The prey will give up its meat and share its visions. At night I may dream of cold water swims surrounded by sleek, wavy bodies.

I watched the sun closing on the western horizon, cooling the evening. Walking on one of the of various trails I use to return home, I could see the darkness starting in the trees where night begins to spread out into the world.

Pulling up my parka collar to protect from the wind, I walked farther down the trail. In November evenings soon turn into the ever lengthening nights of winter. We look out of the small windows of our homes into the icy, snowy darkness and pray for the guidance and hope to be found in the starry heavens. For this we must give thanks or face the darkness alone living at a terrible risk.

Just as I entered the village dusk had fallen and the sky was darkening quickly. I felt a deep love for the wilderness as night began to slowly reveal itself in the stars. The revelations of night are found in rays of light that are reflected deep within us.

As the village falls into a nightly sleep, I can hear the sound of the forest tossing in the wind. Its branches clicking noisily like an old man walking with a cane. I stood there imagining the ice growing thicker while the black fish swim in a dark dream, chasing after a vague, distant light.

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