The Slow-Cooked Sentence


Rachael Conlin Levy

Weekly I hike into the heart of Seattle’s Carkeek Park to feed thousands of salmon fry. The tiny fish are donated by the Suquamish Tribe, and must learn the taste and smell of the creek water in order to return years later and and spawn. The imprinting takes place in a large holding tank at the end of a trail that begins, for me, behind a strip mall.


It’s the third spring I’ve volunteered, and each season a different child or two joins me. This year my oldest (with an eye toward volunteer hours and college applications) has decided to make the early morning walk through a ravine, skirting an old fruit orchard and a sewage treatment plant, to care for the chum salmon.




I’m as eager for her company as the fish are for food. The first sprinkling brings thousands of slivered bodies to the water’s surface as they thrash about competing for food until a sudden swing of arm spooks them. Then they shift as a single body to the opposite side of the tank. Such must be my moves around my girl, slow and measured, aimed at drawing her out in order to nourish her fifteen-year-old soul.


7 responses to “Caretaking”

  1. kyndale says:

    What a pretty place! I wish I could do that with you!!!!!!!!!! ♥

  2. Road trip! Seattle’s beautiful in the spring, and I’ll be feeding the salmon for a least another month or two.

  3. kyndale says:

    I’m working on it! Thinking about it! ♥

  4. Denise says:

    Nourishing a fifteen-year-old soul is no easy task, but it seems you have it handled.

  5. Linda says:

    Love the mason bee nests in the tree! Wish I could feed the fish too!

  6. Denise, I think I’ve got everyone fooled but my teen!

  7. I knew you would appreciate these hives, Ma. Maybe you and Dad will make it up this spring for some ball games, and we can squeeze in a hike.

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