Once a young gray whale swam around and around and around in the inner area of Budd Inlet in Olympia. I saw the poor thing as I drove home one day. Not from a distance - it was close. It was swimming in a tiny area between a small bridge and Capital Lake. That seemed a terrible harbinger. I don't remember what year it was. It made me think the whales must be starving.
In 1999 I went with a group from Wa He Lut to Makah after that nation briefly resumed their traditional whale hunting legally. The whale carcase was in the process of being cut up - not an easy task, of course. I ate a little piece of raw blubber, and the children, horrified at first, followed suit. It was a good trip. I saw a very nice golden eagle (I see bald eagles every day but goldens are a treat). Far from Indian people being monolithic in opinion about the whaling, my friends from several different nations had thoughts about the event that varied greatly. Many Makah were not in agreement.
When my mother died I decided to cast her ashes into the sea, as she had been a sea person. Because I'm weird I wanted to combine her escape into the free element of the sea with whales. Lots of whales. My mother hit the water running, so to speak, and whales were all around.
My old friend Mildred, who died at 99, I think it was, had been a sculptress in Paris in the Twenties, had lived in Taxco, had worked at Sloan-Kettering, and so forth. Her parents had owned (but were cheated out of) Alderbrook Lodge, and at one point she lived on the other side of Hood Canal and went back and forth by rowboat. One black night she was being rowed across and the lantern blew out. They rowed and she heard strange swishes and gurgles. The moon came from behind a cloud and she saw they were in a pod of whales. She marveled that the whales could've upset the tiny boat without effort yet did not. The man rowed on.
posted by - 9:19 PM