Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore'

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007

Dear Readers, do you have a favorite sound? These are sounds I like to hear, some unique to our Southeastern home.

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What is more arresting than the cry of the raven from the top of a tall downtown building? It has an imperious tone. It calls men and women as if to attention. It is understandable how the ancestral Tlingit were drawn to it, and in many other cultures it was important also.

History and commerce are relived in the roar of the floatplane taking off from the channel as it rushes through the water and rises into the sky.

Sudden surprise alerts us when the "woosh" of a bird's wings flies overhead on a silent street.

We are transfixed by the power of rushing water after a heavy storm on Gold Creek or the gentle fall of rain on a sheltering roof.

The comforting and haunting chords from a piano in a nearby room allures in an otherwise still or slumbering household. I like to hear my daughter Cathy play the piano, especially songs from my memory of Sunday School. Lena Aalto, our neighbor of long ago on Goldbelt and Seventh Street, liked to come in to play our piano in an age of unlocked doors in Juneau. She entered whenever the mood inspired her.

Of course there are many special smells to compliment the smorgasbord of senses.

There is the rich salty tang of sea life as you walk along the dock or at the tide line from myriad plant and animal creatures.

I especially like the remembrance of working in the fishing industry, heading tens of thousands of pounds of halibut on the docks of Yakutat, when I smell fresh halibut being unloaded at the Taku Smokeries plant.

Do you have a special memory of sights and sounds?

• Lifelong Alaskan Elton Engstrom is a retired fish buyer, lawyer and legislator (1964-70) who lives in Juneau.

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