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While running through Bicentennial Park in Anchorage, biologist Jessy Coltrane spotted a porcupine in a birch tree. On her runs on days following, she saw it again and again, in good weather and bad. Over time, she knew which Alaska creature she wanted to study.

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It was in the mid-1980s when I ordered seeds for the first time. What a mess. I was overwhelmed by the many variables and terms that I didn’t understand.

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Cooking during the recent holidays, I thought about Haroldean Anderson as dishes piled up. I recalled her kitchen etiquette: clean as you go along—don’t let dirty dishes take control. Haroldean, who died recently, was known for making delicious meals and maintaining a clean kitchen. 

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Since 1991 the weekly Fish Factor column has highlighted Alaska’s seafood industry with its annual “Picks and Pans” — a no holds barred look back at some of the year’s best and worst happenings, and my choice for the year’s biggest fish story.  

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Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, I poured a cup of coffee and glanced over at the weather station unit in the kitchen.

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An Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act was introduced in Congress last week by Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan that, if passed, aims to gain better understanding about causes of salmon declines, especially in the Northwest regions.

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John 11:21-27 (NIV) – “‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the …

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Hebrews 10:5-7 (NIV) – “Therefore, when Christ came into the world He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; and with burnt offerings you were not pleased.’ Then I said, ‘Here I am — It is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will…

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Every major holiday has its classic color scheme. For example, Halloween decorations are generally orange and black. As for Christmas, it’s hard to imagine a time when red and green weren’t synonymous with this holiday. But they haven’t always been Christmas’ primary colors. 

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On Thanksgiving day, I tackled a project that I’d put off for months: Making jam. Mind you, I didn’t wake up that morning thinking, “Today, I’ll make jam.” Rather, as I stood in my living room and watched the gusty, nor’westerlies pluck wavetops from the channel and parade them, sandstorm-li…

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We’re in the season of list-making. Pretty soon we’ll be writing down the names of people on our Christmas card and gift lists, and then we’ll be scribbling New Year’s resolutions. This week we celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday that inspires us to make litanies of blessings that give our li…

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In the deep blue ocean just off the coast of Alaska, killer whales are now communicating with one another with clicks and whistles. Scientists are hearing them.

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Thanksgiving is around the corner and since cooler weather has driven us indoors, many of us are noticing our houseplants for the first time. So it’s time to talk about one of Kodiak’s favorite indoor plants: The Christmas cactus.

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Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV): “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the …

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Last week I heard a fascinating talk by a whale biologist from Hawaii. Her name is Rachel Cartwright and she opened her seminar with a personal story of being on a boat for the first time in Alaska and seeing humpback whales. That first encounter touched her in a way that would shape her lif…

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My apologies. Little did I know that last week’s column, which began with, “Since winter is tippy-toeing ever closer with each passing day,” that I might have been responsible for the recent dump of fluffy white stuff.

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As we approach the season of Christmas (or Nativity as the Orthodox refer to it), I’m reminded of a song — based on the Psalms — that goes like this: “God is with us; understand all ye nations, understand, that God is with us. And submit yourselves, submit yourselves, for God is with us.”

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Pencil-beaked shorebirds with the ability to stay airborne for a week — flying all the way from Alaska to New Zealand — rely on a few crescents of mudflat to fuel that incredible journey.

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Since winter is tippy-toeing ever closer with each passing day, in today’s column I’ll be touching on an outdoor topic and an indoor gardening one. The outdoor topic will be a teaser in that I’ll talk about it more fully as I gain experience.

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Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV): “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

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Halloween in Kodiak is often a dark and stormy night. That is only fitting, for the origin story of Halloween is believed to have its roots in a Celtic festival celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of darker times of the year. The superstitious Celts would dress up to scare away t…

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Last week I listed seven remarkable qualities of compost. And then, while standing at my desk (which I can hand-crank up and down, thank you, Marty!) typing on my keyboard, I admitted that I don’t mind sounding like an evangelist. It’s easy to be a cheerleader for something that does so much.

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 It’s hard to believe, but Dungeness crab in the Gulf of Alaska is now Alaska’s largest crab fishery — a distinction due to the collapse of stocks in the Bering Sea.

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Psalm 141:1-3 (NIV): “O Lord, I call to You; Come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to You. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips.”

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During last weekend’s ruffling gale, I awoke at 4 a.m. to the sound of snapping leaves outside our bedroom window. It meant the wind was whipping through the cherry tree, sucking the still-green leaves off the limbs and into the night.

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Pollock Protein Noodles. Southern Style Alaska Wild Wings. Candied salmon ice cream. Fish oils for pets. Fish and chips meal kits. Fin Fish earrings. These are just a small sample of past winners of Alaska’s biggest seafood competition — the Alaska Symphony of Seafood  — which has showcased …

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1 Peter 3:15 (NIV): “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”  

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Summer is waning and fall is upon us with brisk days, pretty fall colors, new videos of fat bears as they are getting ready for winter, and the stink of decaying salmon.

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Charles Deehr will never forget his first red aurora. On Feb. 11, 1958, Deehr was a student at Reed College in Portland, Ore. He asked a Fulbright scholar from Norway named Tone to the Portland Symphony that night.

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Optimism is the word that best sums up the attitude among most Alaska salmon fishermen after a good season, according to people in the business of buying and selling permits and boats.

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I decided to try something different this year: Bring the outdoors in. For starters, I placed a pot of red, cayenne peppers on the kitchen windowsill. Then I dug up a few clumps of Iceland poppies and re-potted them in potting soil. They now have a front-row seat in a south-facing window.

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Every day for decades, bear hunter, guide, and early 20th century Southeast Alaska homesteader Allen Hasselborg logged the temperature, rainfall and weather at Mole Harbor, on Admiralty Island in Southeast Alaska.

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Jude 1:3-4 (NIV): “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago…

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John 8:1-11 (NIV): But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the g…

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Four years ago this August, my partner Bjorn and I flew into Admiralty Island’s Hasselborg Lake. We fought through thick blueberry bushes and swarms of flies, angled our way up a steep, trail-less slope, and emerged into the alpine of a nearby mountain. A bear roared at us and crashed away.  

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The glorious paper birch outside the window that has for the past three weeks beamed a sunny glow is losing its luster, one golden coin at a time. The 10,000 solar panels the tree has worn since early spring are releasing their grip without a sound, and spiraling to the forest floor.