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On a December night more than 60 years ago, a 28-year-old Japanese student touched down in Fairbanks, Alaska. He set down his suitcase as he stepped off the plane and looked northward, hoping to see the aurora borealis.

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Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV) — “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…

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One day long ago, I stood at a window rocking a sickly toddler on my arms while looking at the purplish-gray evening sky. A flock of seagulls flew by, seemingly in a hurry to get from wherever they came from to wherever they were headed.

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As we enter Thanksgiving week in this world of COVID, I’d like to focus on a few ways we can shed a little light for ourselves, our neighbors, our community and, since this column is mostly about gardening — our gardens. So for today, I want to cover a few indoor and outdoor projects, includ…

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2 Corinthians 3:1-4 (NIV) — “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result o…

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“On winter mornings, just as the sun’s uncertain light slopes across the Tanana Flats, ravens fly over my log cabin on their daily commute to town. Perhaps, like me, they would prefer to remain here in the hills above Fairbanks, where temperatures are usually ten or twenty degrees warmer. Bu…

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Ice that floats on far-north oceans has been dwindling the last few years. Scientists have described the shrinking of this solar reflector — once bigger than Russia and now taking up less space than Australia — as a breakdown of the world’s refrigerator.

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Can you think of a silver lining to COVID-19? It’s a challenge, what with the US continuing to set records for daily coronavirus infections. … Then, one of my newsletter subscribers from Switzerland offered a positive bent to the pandemic in this morning’s email: 

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Tamped down prices due to toppled markets caused by the COVID virus combined with low salmon returns to many Alaska regions added up to reduced paychecks for fishermen and will mean lower tax revenues for fishing communities.

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Daniel 10:12-14 (NIV) — “Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me 21 day…

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National attention has been riveted on the presidential election these past two weeks. This preoccupation with politics reminded me that Kodiak Island, although not a campaign stop, has been visited by presidents or their staffers, as well as a presidential hopeful.

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I am celebrating on a rainy November afternoon: For weeks I have been talking about the importance of participating in the democratic process and casting one’s vote despite the downfalls of the system.

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Will Harrison, who knew the world’s bumpy plains of ice as well as his old neighborhood in Saint John, New Brunswick, has died. He was 84.

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Now that the elections are behind us, the topic of “what’s next?” is on the front burner of many tongues. I’ll let those who polish crystal balls get to work. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what’s next in the world of ... weather. At least for the rest of 2020.

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Psalm 106:1-8 (NIV) — “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare His praise? Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. Remember, O Lord, when you show favor t…

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What would we do without King’s Diner? When we reached the peak of the coronavirus restrictions, people worried that Eleanor King, the diner’s proprietor, would be forced to close down. But Eleanor, like other restaurateurs, circumvented the negative impact of the COVID shutdowns by offering…

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After a salmon season that successfully fished its way through a pandemic and upturned markets, the value of Alaska salmon permits is ticking up in two regions while toppling in others.

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Hebrews 3:12-14 (NIV) — “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the Living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if w…

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Within their bulbous bodies, Steller sea lions of the western Aleutian Islands seem to carry more mercury than sea lions closer to mainland Alaska.

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After years of writing this column about life in the ocean and environmental issues, and as a conversation and learning tool for anything ocean-related going on around our beautiful Island, I currently find it difficult to stay within the limits of this assignment.

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Many Alaska fishermen are likely to be involved in regulatory meetings next spring instead of being out on the water. And Alaska legislators will be distracted by hearings for hundreds of unconfirmed appointments as they tackle contentious budgets and other pressing issues.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising against the door-to-door candy quest during the pandemic. Are you surprised?

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Katie Kangas operates a bed-and-breakfast in Ruby, Alaska. On the morning of Oct. 15, she turned to look out her picture window, toward the cabin next door. She was waiting for her client to switch the light on, at which point she would step out and deliver his breakfast.

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Genesis 3:1-4 (NIV) — “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruits from the trees in the garden, but God did say…

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She spent years as a classroom and home-school teacher, and now Sena Rogers is overseeing the academic and spiritual training of young minds at the Kodiak Christian School. Rogers is the school’s new principal, replacing Katherine Baquero who resigned last year.

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Love it or hate it, “pivot” is the buzzword of the pandemic. Pivot refers to a significant change or survival tactic in a business, a household, a relationship or eating habits.

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Biologist Stacia Backensto has fooled a raven. When trying to recapture birds on Alaska’s North Slope during her graduate student days at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she wore a moustache and beard. She also strapped pillows to her waist.

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Mark 9:38-41 (NIV) — “‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything about me, for whoever is not against us i…

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The season is changing again. This morning the roofs of the houses in my neighborhood were coated in frost, I had to warm up my car before I could see out the windows and there was a fresh layer of snow on the peaks of the mountains.

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A certain man had a fine horse that was his pride and his wealth. One morning he got up early to go out to the stable and he found it empty. The horse had been stolen!

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We’re in the season of change. Darkness comes earlier and light is delayed. Kids are back in school. Salmon fishermen have put away their gear, and crab fishermen are preparing to head south in pursuit of king crab, a fishery that has been closed on Kodiak Island since 1983.

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Mark 12:13-17 (NIV) — “Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch Him in His words. They came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in acco…

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I went on slug patrol the other morning. Slug patrol means snooping around the garden in search of slimy gastropods. I collected them with my bare hands and then, with a slimy blessing, I tossed them over the cliff. Problem was, few of them ended up in the ocean, thanks to a low tide.

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You’ve probably seen him on “Deadliest Catch,” blurting the lines of limericks and other poems while working on the deck of a fishing boat. Or you’ve most likely read or heard his poetry at a memorial service paying homage to a beloved community member who had passed. 

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2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV) — “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lo…

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On the first day of October, a little girl pulls on her rubber boots and rushes outside into crisp fall air. She knows the days are getting shorter, but she doesn’t realize Alaska is a week past the autumnal equinox.

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An 80-foot ship called the Island C, a great captain with a vision, an exceptional young cook, a competent and upbeat skiff operator, and an engineer with a wealth of experiences and stories to complement, two crew leaders, and a group of volunteers who work hard pulling together every day, …

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This summer has been like no other. Good weather plus more time than usual to spend in the garden — or fish for silvers, go for long hikes, and ... okay, so the berry harvest wasn’t so great. Yet, more than once I’ve heard people say, almost reverently in a hushed voice, “Where did the summer go?”

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In 2012, an 85-year-old scientist and his son-in-law pulled a cylinder of muck from a faraway island. They carried it home like a newborn baby, froze it and mailed it to a researcher across the country.