Magical moments in a mystical city

Look at those mountains! Looks at that sunset! Looks at all those boats! Look at that sea otter! Overheard cries of joy, while I walk and work on the Homer Spit this summer. Perhaps only we visitors and newcomers can truly enjoy a magical mystical place like Homer, oblivious to the recent political infighting.

One day I watched and listened to a group of preteen girls, too young even for cell phones. They were lingering at low tide in the Homer Harbor, observing a sleeping sea otter. I absorbed their joy and delight, their wonder and curiosity, as the sea otter drifted to the shore where they stood. Then, as the sea otter awoke, blinking at the bright day, we watched it scull away slowly, tail gently swaying.

“Wasn’t that a magical moment?” I commented, to nods and murmurs of assent all around.

Truly, despite the rancor of the recent recall vote, Homer is an incredible city. Whether you’re lucky enough to live here or simply find yourself working here for the summer, as I have, it is a charmed place. Yes, indeed, look at those mountains.

Instead of weighing in on our differences, we need to lend more weight to our similarities. As Jim Stearns wrote: “How about if we agree to disagree and get back to sitting down beside one another and/or working together?” Berkeley, the bearded genial trolley driver said as much to me, that Homer was a magical place where people have always put aside differences and worked together, whether as volunteer firemen or museum or library supporters.

Conservative? Liberal? Those are just words. Most of us have streaks of each, evolving and changing over time.

“We are all of us neighbors in this wonderful town of ours,” wrote Mike Etzwiler. “Even though we may not agree on current political dealings, we are still neighbors and should remain respectful and civil towards each other.”

As I said to my skipper boss, John Rogers, Alaska is a place filled with characters but sometimes we find ourselves lacking in character. But every day here I feel enriched. While hiking around the harbor or hitchhiking to town, I’ve met some characters and those possessing character. Author George Davis, who penned Alaska Man and runs the water taxi to Alaska Wild; Convivial Renaissance man and Ursus skipper, John Mitchell; and outdoor photographer Russell Campbell are just a few of the colorful locals I’ve been lucky enough to meet.

As a newcomer, I’d suggest to the locals: take some time to see the town through the eyes of others — the rapturous joy of tiny tots in their life jackets, ambling over the docks for the first time ever, amazed to see fingerlings or sea anemones. Oldsters about to embark on their first sight-seeing voyage. Not to mention all those sports fishermen, excited to test their skill and luck on charter fishing boats, while lovely young crew girls in yoga pants and XtraTufs assisting these merry men.

No, Homer ain’t paradise, not even close. But as Henry David Thoreau wrote so long ago, “The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise.” No city I know of is paradise, but Homer is closer than most, from what I’ve observed. Yes, we live in interesting, tumultuous times, but I’ve come to realize that Kindness Generates Kindness and relieves a lot of tension, yours and your neighbors too.

Author and filmmaker, Douglas Alan Herman is a longtime commercial Kodiak fisherman.