Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Twelve
By Timothy Smith, 2020
Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 12
Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)
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January, 1964: A skating party in the moonlight – winter at its finest! And quite
the change from the Arizona desert that Jay-
Judson noticed he was skating on a pretty pond of a lake, roughly oval in shape, with dark forested hills on either side. The larger, upper lake was hidden somewhere above them back in the trees, and this beachside pond was like a hidden gem, even by moonlight. He made a circuit of the lake, which was only about three or four acres long and about two acres wide. The advantage to this lake as opposed to the “upper” lake was that this one had the nice beach area for a fire, and road access thanks to the gun emplacement on the cliffs above. The upper lake only had a short road as far as the pump house where Howell had once found his jeep, and would have made a fine skating choice, but without the spectacular mountain views across Unuak Channel, or a good spot for a bonfire. While Judson was making his lazy circles around the lake, Sandy Ann, Herman and the rest were seemingly running circles around him. He looked up in shock to see Herman sailing by in reverse, a skill, Judson realized, he didn’t even know existed. Ward and Marla seemed not to be in the mood for dramatic displays, and just skated, arm in arm, across the ice.
Judson was making his third or fourth circuit (he’d changed it up by making huge, lazy figure eights every so often) and looking out at the strikingly beautiful mountains of Afognak, when one foot suddenly stopped cold. His body, still in motion, abruptly tumbled forward. He landed rather ingloriously on his right knee and the opposite wrist. He was soon grateful that his writing hand wasn’t involved, because his wrist and knee hurt something fierce. He ended up in a bit of a heap near where he had spilled himself. Sandy Ann was beside him in a flash, her skates sending up a cold spray as she skidded sideways to a stop. “Oh, you’ve found the stick, or the leaf. There’s always something stuck in the ice, and when a skate hits it, it’s like perfect brakes. You have to put your uh... appendages on rotation,” she said, retrieving yet another vocabulary word in Sandy Ann fashion.
Sandy Ann launched into a recitation reminiscent of little Jake’s movie narrations: “Rules for falling on the ice: You land on one knee, then the next one, one elbow, then the next one, one shoulder, then the next one. And never land on your head, because you only got one of those!” She sounded so much like little Jake narrating a movie, and Judson laughed out loud. Once Judson had finished laughing, she explained that the idea came from an Alaskan humorist named Ruben Gaines, who read his stories and poems on an Anchorage radio station every week. “My Dad never misses it!” Judson felt better after laughing at her words and her delivery, in spite of the pain in his knee and wrist. It hurt a bit to bend both of them, but he could tell it was nothing too serious, and soon was back out on the ice, gliding around somewhat more warily this time. Eventually he threw caution to the wind, and sped up again. He stopped looking for obstacles in the ice, which would likely have been invisible in the glow of moonlight, and stared across the Channel toward the spectacular mountains.
Mr. Hansen, originally from Minnesota, was not as shy about the ice. He was surprisingly
good, although the skates were probably one size too small for him and would soon
retire him for that reason. He swooped and spun, and ducked and pivoted, and Judson
was frankly amazed. For all his young life, his dad had been a teacher in the Arizona
desert, out where the winters were considerably different from this one. “Dad! When
did you...” The elder Hansen called out an answer as he did yet another swoop by.
“I played hockey when I was your age. Minnee-
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