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Whether there's frost or not, isn't it about time to be done with autumn?

Heather Lende
Fall colors near the Nabesna road, along Alaska's Tok cutoff. Sept 13, 2013 Loren Holmes photo

HAINES -- We finally put the garden mostly to bed and installed the snow-breaks and stacked the firewood on the porch. I mean it's the end of October and time to be done with it, whether the window boxes are ready or not, right? Sort of.

I kept the front box filled for now. We haven't even had a frost. Also, the kale and chard are still edible, so that bed will stay until they are gone or freeze, whichever comes first. Saturday night at the annual Klukwan heritage and cultural center fundraising dinner, Klukwan resident Tony Strong, who is also a gourmet chef, prepared rich braised moose meat in a port wine and cranberry reduction sauce paired with smashed potatoes. (His sister Kimberley's kippered salmon bellies were to die for, as were sister Lani's desserts.)

Here's how to make the potatoes: Steam new potatoes in their skins, then squish them down with a coffee mug or a big spoon (smash may be too strong a term) until they are a bit flattened and opened up. Then drizzle with lots of good olive oil add sea salt and parsley -- and roast them a while. (I think any herb would work, and maybe even be better-- rosemary? thyme? dill? I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.)

I also learned that the bears are moving into town now, because, according to the fishermen and fish-savvy folks at our table, the pink salmon haven't returned to the Chilkoot River this year to feed fall bears  because the seiners caught them all. Turns out, the record-setting pink salmon season was not so great for the Chilkoot bears and may be a challenge for neighborhood trick-or-treaters later this month.  On the way home from church yesterday, I walked around bear poop on the sidewalk near the Chilkat Center. My daughter reported seeing a sow and cubs walking down Small Tracts Road, and this morning my neighbors were turned back on their foggy beach walk by another or perhaps the same sow and three cubs.  

Fran said,  "We said 'Has that big rock always been there?' And we thought, no and then, ‘Do rocks move?’ Well definitely not!"

Speaking of beach walks, if you are among the gazillion users or appreciators of the Chilkat River beach in our neighborhood (or care to speak for the bears and the fish and little children and leash-less dogs) please thank the planning commission for their support of an ordinance insuring the beach remains safe, quiet, and non-motorized, and send a note to the assembly encouraging them to support it as well. It's nice to have good news about government for a change. It helps that this is an issue so many people can agree on, because it makes good sense for residents, wildlife, and visitors -- and, best yet, will make sure the beach is here for them all to use and enjoy generations from now the same way we do today. Sometimes government does get it right.

Haines writer Heather Lende is finishing her third book of essays, “Finding the Good.” This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.