Hibernating for the winter

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2003

I want to thank publisher Don Smith and former editor Steve Reed of the Juneau Empire for allowing "On the Waterfront" to appear as a weekly column for the last several months.

When I first started, I told them that if they didn't like a particular story to just tell me and I'd send in another one. It is up to the publisher and editor to decide what appears in a newspaper. It is a gift to a writer or a columnist to be able to submit his stories. But in the course of the year they haven't changed a word, or even a punctuation mark.

Of course, writing in the Neighbors Section gives a person a weightier responsibility than say the Letters to the Editor column. Here we have to be friendly and fair to everyone. It wouldn't do us any good to harangue in a partisan fashion our fellow Juneauites, because then we wouldn't be neighborly.

Thank goodness, they didn't consign me to the editorial page from the beginning. I really escaped something there. I might not have been able to resist the temptation to express my feelings.

But don't let me stop you from sending those letters in, because everyone reads them, and sometimes you learn something important.

Now I want to be like the salmon or the black bear that frequents the forests around Juneau. It is time to hibernate for the winter months. The black bear in the spring comes out of his snow-clad den and looks around for something to eat. The salmon in the far-off North Pacific waters senses a genetic message that tells him to start for home, so that in great numbers he returns to the creeks and rivers of Southeastern Alaska. I would like to return, if the publisher and editor approve, and if God be willing, and start writing sometime in March 2004.

Don't let me forget to add thanks to the gracious readers who have said they enjoy "On The Waterfront."

• Elton Engstrom is a lifelong Alaskan, retired fish-buyer, lawyer and legislator (1964-70) who lives in Juneau. He can be reached at 586-1655.

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