Scoop out the kidneys, scraping out the last gelatinous pieces from the now-dry spine. A boatyard in Naknek, Alaska, where boats are stored for the rest of the year after salmon season ends. One of the captains told me she started fishing on her own for her second season.
This is especially perfect for couples who are so close that sex feels like having sex with a sibling: As soon as I start cooking, though, Dave calls me up because the line jiggles and I have to reel it in. Some are eaten by bears but most stay through their decay, creating waves of stench.
In the afternoons, Dave sits at the helm, his thick grey moustache twitching as he puffs on his pipe, which several years ago he adopted to replace his three-pack-a-day cigarette- smoking habit.
Despite the law, many fishermen eat kings, the most delicious salmon species, once in a while. The last few days my eyes have started to puff up, probably from a mild allergy to mildew, which seeps into everything in this old boat.
There are seemingly no fisher women around, and I wonder if the industry is a hostile place for us. It feels good to be back out fishing.
I watch the fish eyes dilate and fix when they die. He answers my questions tersely. If you really want to make things interesting, tie both of your hands behind your backs. The people are all elsewhere; none of them can see me.
Later I pan-fry and eat it. When I return to town, Dave acts normal. We use our gaffs to grab the hooks, flip their bodies so the hook pops out, and watch them swim away.
It will be just the two of us. Grab a spoon, the same kind you use to eat cereal. I eat my dinner outside on a paper plate, while I watch the sun set on the islands around us.
I ask if I can set up a time with him to call back. When I dump out our pee bucket the splash agitates phosphorescent plankton in the water, creating a burst of tiny sparkles. My groceries show up at a store, the process opaque.
The other part of my time is spent on writing and illustration projects. On deck I use the metal reel to drop our four fishing lines. So Lauren and I pack cans with fish meat, netting similar cash returns.
When they arrive home, try out each and every toy on them: What kind of hunter goes around killing babies? I hear that a woman working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game — which manages regulations in Alaska fisheries — saw a single king salmon scale on the deck of a boat while they were out of season, and searched every corner until finding some the captain had been hiding away.
Flip it on its back in a v-shaped metal tray. It connects me, albeit violently, to the cycle of life and death and I feel rooted in the natural world. He wears a frayed black sweatshirt appearing as though he uses his sleeves as spare cloth.
The rush is mixed with vulnerability; I often feel nauseated with my power. After a week and a half of fishing in Alaska, this is what I do.
Despite the unlikeliness, I want to see him again. But when Spencer sits down at our breakfast table, Dave gets up immediately and walks out. When the day is done, Dave and I anchor in protected harbors, relaxing into the silence as we shut off the motor.WARNING: Graphic content.
Feeling blue this winter?
British sex and relationships expert Tracey Cox has shared a list of adult games that are guaranteed to spice up your February. As one of very few women working in Alaska salmon country, I learned how to gut a fish and swallow its heart.
But an even harder trick was navigating the torrential sea of masculinity.Download