From Nuka Island, Alaska

“It’s snowing, and I’m speeding atop glassy salt water in an open-air skiff. My face is numb, but I can see well enough to spot the hidden entrance to Pete’s Cove. Along the shore are the skeletal remains of a bulldozer, barn and termite-riddled cabin. Through the falling snow, I envision ‘Herring Pete’ and Josephine Sather tending to their fox farm here. But they abandoned this place in 1961, and the barn’s decay, scented with river-otter dung, makes me sneeze. Pete was reputedly a ripe and eccentric guy, his rarely washed clothes reeking of rotten fish. His wife was a clean-freak, forcing Pete to take cold showers after fishing, even in winter. Admiring his view over the cove, I can picture Pete shivering wet while Josephine cooked up a hot pot of fox stew. My mind wanders as I stand in the snow, until I realize I need a warmer jacket.”