They never say much before they go. Being what I am, I don’t say much either.
I sit on the farthest reaching log until they and the skiff disappear into the dawn. They are swallowed by the fog that rolls along the water, silencing all it consumes with its foreboding mist.
On mornings like this they will need me the most. Their ride into town is five nautical miles in the dark with no spotlight at low tide. They are at risk of hitting exposed rocks and floating logs. As always, I pray for their safe return. It will probably be dark when I hear the motor on the skiff whining its way home, and I will be waiting.
This time I refuse to let my off day go to waste. My job is to protect, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
When you are as quiet as I have been for as long as I have been, things that go unspoken tend to pile up, so I’ll begin as my pals do: Good morning.
I am the Prince of Wales, though I’ve been referred to by many names: bear-dog, wolf-spitz, brick, log-walker and most commonly, “the boy.”
I live off the grid in the real-deal Alaskan wilderness over by Naukati on Prince of Wales Island. My home floats on the water. My pal Jerry lives with me.
He has thumbs which enable him to keep our home floating and I have teeth which I use to protect him while he does so. Together we run an oyster farm. We have guests from all over the world come to our farm to meet me.
Right now we have two guests staying at our float ranch, as we call it.
Now, word on the water has it that some pups call their pals “master” but that isn’t the case with Jerry and me. Master implies ownership which furthermore implies property. Let me assure you, I am no one’s property.
I am a prince. Which explains why people travel from all across the globe to come see me. In turn I show them something greater than myself, my home: the Alaskan wilderness.
Walk joyfully into a new perspective. And remember, if you get a splinter in your paw while walking, do as I do and simply remove it and keep on walking.
I’ve grown to truly love people. Protecting them is an honor and more so a privilege.
I have a full time job as protector of this island. I keep the sneaky sea otters away from our oysters and purple hinged rock scallops. Once in awhile I bite a black bear in the behind if he gets too close to my pals. I chase after blacktail Sitka deer and occasionally log walk the perimeter to keep the wolves at bay. My favorite job is taking point on our skiff when we head out to sea. I keep watch for breaching humpbacks and stalking sea lions and I help haul in halibut and seize scrumptious salmon.
I keep a keen eye on the water. Lately, the wind has been fierce, blowing in from the north, whistling with shards of ice. This forces my pals to keep their heads down. When the wind is sharp I must be sharper and cut right through it. There are no immediate medical facilities within miles, which is another reason I take my job so seriously.
Alaska can be an unpredictable place of feast and famine. My home is unforgiving, and tragically I’ve lost some dear friends because of it.
Which is why I write to you today.
I write to you so that I may protect those who are not within my bark’s echo. So that wherever you are, you don’t get dragged off by the tide in your own life.
Instead of rushing off to fetch your newspapers to gather your gossip, perhaps you should slow down and bask in the blessings before you. Gossip will suck the life from you, like a tick.
Get busy swimming, or get busy sinking.
As much as I’d enjoy unloading a heapful of pent-up advice, a lifetime of log walking has taught me that you must take one step at a time. So I’ll begin one message at a time.
It all starts in the morning. I am fond of mornings. Morning is the most memorable season of the day, quoted by Henry David Thoreau (a wilderness advocate like me) as being “the awakening hour.”
Most of you probably start your day by drinking coffee to fetch your goals. To me, the better alternative is inhaling the fresh air of a new day. What is a cup of black bitter liquid in comparison to the aroma of wilderness after rainfall?
The earth’s incense is my coffee! Take a moment to truly inhale the world around you. I am blessed with sweet scents of drizzled ferns, damp hemlocks and spicy cedars perfumed with the salty sea. What do you smell every morning?
I awake to the call of eagles soaring through the misty morning sky and whales blowing off beyond the cove. What do you hear?
Jerry and I have the ability to eat, sleep and raise a leg wherever we please. To me, that feels like freedom. What do you feel?
If you are unhappy with any of your answers to my questions, you need to change them. Do so, not impulsively, but through perspective. Instead of rushing off to fetch your newspapers to gather your gossip, perhaps you should slow down and bask in the blessings before you. Gossip will suck the life from you, like a tick. We dogs despise ticks, they are nasty parasites. Especially politics. These ticks feed generally on people. They carry a disease that makes people concern themselves too much with what has happened and what will happen, which makes me sad. This leaves you vulnerable to many accidents because you aren’t focused on today. That will get you hurt or worse here in Alaska, which is why I do my very best to remain vigilant and protect as many people as I can.
Do not be distracted. Like that good ol’ song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Be a simple kind of man!” Simplify! That’s why I love it here. It’s simple and simple is good. The best things in life are simple, like going for a walk. When’s the last time you’ve gone on a nice long walk?
Walks are a great way to start your morning. They allow for you to walk yourself, both physically and psychologically, out of whatever webs that have been weaved in your day by day routine. What is your favorite haunt? Go there. If you don’t have one, come walk with me. I like the Tongass National Forest. You never know what critters you might see: black bear, blacktail Sitka deer, and mink, all of which I will protect you from in case they get a whiff of your fear. And the freshness of the woods is a journey in itself. Walking in the woods goes together like venison and dirt. Perfect.
Walk joyfully into a new perspective. And remember, if you get a splinter in your paw while walking, do as I do and simply remove it and keep on walking. No sense lingering over the pains of the past; if we all did, most of us would be immobilized by youth. Take it from me, log walking didn’t come easy.
I can’t help but love you and if any of you were to get hurt it would be as if I’ve failed you. So please, make a dog happy and wake up, take a deep breath and focus on what is before you.
This is the morning of a new year. This can be your year of awakening! Stand firm like the illuminating hemlocks and drip off the dew of days passed!
This is also the morning of a new friendship. Sleep in peace tonight knowing that I will be protecting you. Be simple, my friends.
Until something wild calls you home,
-The Prince of Wales, by Jamie Mabb
BIO: I’m 25, originally from Saratoga, New York, and a former car salesman turned adventurer. I’m traveling through Alaska, and will be for the next year. Currently, I’m living off the grid in Southeast Alaska. My next stop is Denali National Park in May. I’m in the process of establishing a website, called “Death of a (car)
salesman.” – Jamie Mabb