Return of the Humpback Whales Foreshadows “The Next Big Thing”

By , April 10, 2010

This morning, a humpback whale appeared very close to our rocks. This is the first baleen whale we’ve seen since January. Though they have arrived earlier in past years, whales usually begin to congregate in our part of the fjord about now.

We almost missed it. Michelle had risen before me, and heard it through the cabin wall. This whale’s breaths were shorter than most, so she wasn’t sure it was a whale; she went outside to investigate. I had just woken up (again) when I heard her call from the rocks. I rushed out in my pajamas and halibut jacket. I saw it dive right off the rocks just as I reached the beach. We clambered down to the water’s edge and shivered in the cold north wind, waiting for it to resurface. As so often happens, it had disappeared; soon the cold drove us back inside to get dressed.

This could be an isolated incident, but hopefully not; hopefully, it means the whales have returned. Soon we should have several sightings each day, all duly recorded in our Wildlife Journal.

Besides the sheer, unflagging awesomeness of being so close to such a huge, mysterious creature, we see the whales as a harbinger of what is, on the homestead, The Next Big Thing, an all-consuming project that we look forward to at this time of year with perhaps equal measures of eagerness and dread. There are many signs of its impending arrival to be seen and heard, none more dramatic than the return of the giant whales.

3 Responses to “Return of the Humpback Whales Foreshadows “The Next Big Thing””

  1. Michelle says:

    I happened upon your blog this winter and have been enjoying reading about your life up the canal. I really like to read about how you do everyday tasks “off-the-grid”. I would like to hear more about how you live without a refrigerator. I understand in the winter you have a cool spot you can keep things in, but what do you do in the summer? Do you cook more than you eat at one meal? Do you keep condiments? I’m very curious :o) Thanks so much for sharing your life!
    ~Michelle, Juneau

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Michelle,

    We’re very glad you’re enjoying the blog, particularly since, being in Juneau, your life is probably not so very different from ours.

    I no doubt will write a new post based on your questions in the coming days, but briefly, we use the pre-refrigeration-era cooler in the summer, we do cook more than we can eat at one meal, and we do keep condiments.

    I assume you’ve already seen these posts?:
    “Eating Garbage – Making the Most of Our Food” ( and
    “Life Without Refrigeration” (

    These both provide more information–not that I’ll be able to resist adding more in the future!


  3. Roger Murphy says:

    My wife and I too have wondered about your lack of summer refrigeration. I’ll head right over and read the links now! 😉

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