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On Being Wild

This Thursday we celebrate Wild Whatcom with a benefit dinner at Bellingham eatery and gathering place Ciao Thyme. Wild Whatcom is a local organization that helps kids become healthy, engaged citizens who care about the earth and relish the outdoors, rebuilding a connection to the natural world and instilling an ethic of service to the community.

Wild Whatcom works on the premise that children who participate in the outdoor educational programs they lead have stronger self-esteem and sense of purpose and deeper commitments to stewardship.

Being wild is also who we are as Alaska Gold Seafood. Our wild seafood and our fishermen whose lives are inextricably linked to nature and wildness are the essence of who we are as an organization. Fishing is still one of those last refuges where you can be about as close as possible, at least in this day and age, to nature and a free and wild existence that truly demands just about everything.

One of our fishermen even wrote a book on being wild. Theo Grutter, may he rest in peace after his 40 + years of being part of our fishermen-owned co-op, wrote  Thinking Wild, a collection of 115 short essays, written in a poetic voice that bears his soul. Born in Switzerland, Theo was educated and destined to be a corporate banker but gave it all up to go fishing. Theo fished alone wild and free in the waters surrounding Baranof Island his small boat the Onyx for halibut and black cod. He would bicycle around Sitka and take a week to fast and sit in the trees of the Tongass Forest for a week at a time and meditate on what it means to be wild.

wild seafood
Theo Grutter, on his beautiful small boat the Onyx

 

What is wild? These are the thoughts of a fisherman who spent a lot of time out fishing not alone, but in the company of some of the richest life on the planet: the whales, puffins, and fish in the waters around Southeast Alaska.

One can feel a tremendous amount of energy surrounding Theo as he excited talks about black cod, which he calls “the premier fish caught one kilometer below the surface of the sea.”

From his essay “Thank you, Oceans and Forests, you are a hundred sisters and brothers to me”:

Did you ever wonder why the cormorants never build shrimp farms? Why the pigeons never invented cornfields? Why a whale does not wear a tie? Good question. […] Out here on the ocean I am beyond prudence, politeness, and shame. In this grand immensity, wisdom can run free to do its very vast things like fertilizing my deeper mind.

Theo’s book, Thinking Wild, is not just a fisherman’s meditations on wildness but thoughts on making peace with oneself and how we all live in this world. Here is an excerpt from his essay “The ocean experience”:

Just now leaving the angry open sea behind, white rollers still on my heels. My boat, the Onyx, runs me on autopilot through Sergius Narrows bucking a five-knot tidal current, the Chrysler-Nissan purring like a bee. Hoonah Sound lies ahead. The quietness of six hundred square miles of inside water awaits me, with the Tongass National Forest surrounding the scene. I will set there and tomorrow pull my long line gear for halibut the same way a Kalahari woman smoothly dib-dabs, jar balancing on her head, back from the well. What we love to do turns into rhymes and becomes beautiful.

Through Theo and through our deep relationship with nature, we celebrate being wild. We celebrate the wild. Fishing is still one of those last refuges where you can be about as close as possible, at least in this day and age, to nature and a free and wild existence that truly demands just about everything.

Serving you with pride,

The Folks at Alaska Gold Seafood