Cecilia’s hospitality and the feeling of home (Eagle River, Alaska)

Today we woke up in Alaska for the first time. With four hours time change and the quality and length of light, it was like waking up in another country (what the lower 48 does not know, at least experientially). I believe there are only about 3 or 4 hours of darkness this time of year. And the enjoyment of the light has to make up for the rest of the year a little bit. I cannot fully describe how this day went, its quality and textures, the ‘nature center’ of Eagle River (see the post for August 4) where we stepped into and crossed a cold river, but what I can describe is the food and welcoming of Cecilia. She welcomed me, as she had 20 years earlier in Austria, to a home of delicious food. Two friends of hers also gave us a bed for the night and a breakfast of eggs and toast and coffee. A true kind of homecoming. The evening meal though was an example of hospitality. Right now, I read about the troubles in the ‘hospitality industry’: a lack of workers, many restaurants and hotels have closed (see this article by William Davies). Hospitals have become over-crowded, and nurses and doctors have been superheroes. So much has changed during COVID, and it is not over. But here is a traditional form of hospitality. Instead of it being a business or an industry (like tourism), it is a home – the feeling of home, being welcomed, invited in, nourished. The meal consisted of spätzl, which I love, dumplings, Moose goulash, salmon, and halibut. How inviting! I must become a food writer to begin to describe the tastes and smells. I cannot forget the dessert. Tomorrow we better go for a hike in order to work off some of these calories.

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